CAPE TOWN – The T20 Global League has received a further Bollywood infusion, with actress Preity Zinta acquiring the Stellenbosch Monarchs franchise.
Zinta, who is also the co-owner of Indian Premier League team Kings XI Punjab, joins fellow Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who owns the Cape Town Knight Riders.
The Monarchs were the only franchise in the T20 Global League without private investment, when South African company Brimstone withdrew after initially being unveiled at the official launch in London.
Cricket South Africa have overseen all operations at the Stellenbosch team since, including the inaugural player draft in Cape Town.
Three of the T20GL teams are now linked to IPL teams, with the Johannesburg Giants being owned by the GMR Group, who also own the Delhi Daredevils, while the Kolkata Knight Riders belong to Khan.
“I would like to compliment and thank Haroon Lorgat from Cricket South Africa for his unrelenting persistence, passion and belief in the T20 Global League, which inspired me to come on board,” Zinta said.
“I firmly believe that this is the most exciting time for young South African cricketing talent. This league will give them an opportunity to take the leap from becoming the best in the country to becoming the best in the world.
“I hope the people of the winelands area of South Africa have an unrivalled fan experience during this tournament and believe together we will make our team and stadium something very special.”
CSA chief executive Lorgat was thrilled to have Zinta on board for it “finalises an eminent and enviable group of owners”.
The Benoni Zalmi and Durban Qalanders franchises are owned by corporations who also have interests in the Pakistan Super League, while the Nelson Mandela Bay Stars and Bloemfontein Blazers are owned by businessmen from the UAE and Hong Kong respectively.
Only the Pretoria Mavericks have a local owner, with South African businessman Osman Osman’s Blu Blood company in control.
All eight squads, including international players, have been finalised, although there is now doubt over whether Pakistan cricketers will indeed be allowed to participate in the T20 Global League due to a scheduling clash with Pakistan’s national T20 competition.
The T20GL is set to run from November 3 to December 16, while Pakistan’s National T20 Cup is scheduled from November 4-19.
Reports indicate that the PCB have strongly advised that the National T20 Cup would “take precedence over global leagues” around the world.
The Monarchs, though, won’t be affected as much as other teams in the T20 Global League – the Pakistani-owned Benoni Zalmi have three Pakistan internationals in their squad, including the world’s No 1 T20 spinner Imad Wasim, whom they purchased at the draft.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis, who will also lead the Monarchs in the T20 Global League, was not overly concerned about the possibility that Wasim might have to withdraw, but was excited at the new ownership.
“It's great that Preity Zinta has come on board,” Du Plessis said. “I have heard from my teammates she is very good to work with, so I’m looking forward to working with her and seeing how she impacts our team space.
“She is passionate about the sport, and I am sure local fans will have an awesome time at Boland Park.”