Domestic cricket is back, with teams still operating in a ‘bio bubble’, sans Proteas (for the start of the season) and with more senior professional teams.
There are Rocks, Tuskers, Dolphins, Lions, Warriors, Rhinos, Impalas, Dragons and Iinyathi, the latter based in East London, who according to one publication are “ready to gore the opposition.”
It’s South African cricket taking a trip back in order to move forward. The franchises – those six teams that were an amalgam of provinces – are now gone, although some of the provinces like Northerns, KwaZulu-Natal and Central Gauteng have retained the monikers, Titans, Dolphins and Lions respectively.
To introduce (or re-introduce) the new structure, Cricket South Africa has created a T20 knockout competition, featuring all 15 provinces and the SA under-19 side, which needs some match time together.
The new-look domestic structure – besides having the primary aim of lessening the burden on CSA’s beleaguered coffers – is also targeting better structure around development initiatives and a clearer identity for domestic professional teams.
Unions based in the larger metros have attracted quite a few commercial partners, – which include everything from makers of spice, to business management solution companies, fast food joints and sports betting agencies. The Central Gauteng Lions’ CEO, Jono Leaf-Wright, stated at the union’s season launch recently, that the new structure has drawn a favourable reaction from its sponsors because companies can see more clearly how their investments make a difference throughout the structure, from junior level, to women’s cricket and the club level.
On the playing front, after the T20 KO, the two new divisions will be in place, with the eight sides in the top division and seven in the bottom. For the first two seasons they’ll remain in their divisions, but from 2023 onwards, there’ll be promotion /relegation, which CSA hopes will bring a dynamic element to what happens on the field.
For the next few weeks, the T20 Knockout Challenge will be played in Kimberley and Bloemfontein, with Pool A fixtures starting on Friday at the Kimberley Oval. The top two sides from each Pool will qualify for the quarterfinals that will take place next month, with the final scheduled for October 22, also in Kimberley.
Pool A looks like being a battle between Western Province and Central Gauteng, with both sides containing players with international experience – WP, in the shape of captain Wayne Parnell and Kyle Verreynne, while Gauteng has Sisanda Magala and Lutho Sipamla in its squad.
The home team, the Northern Cape Heat, will be led by Aubrey Swanepoel with Jonathon Vandiar and Rivaldo Moonsamy providing experience. South Western Districts will be captained by Jean du Plessis, a former SA under-19 player.
The tournament will be broadcast on Supersport, which will be debuting its Xhosa commentary team. Makhaya Ntini, Mfuneko Ngam and Monde Zondeki, will provide analysis, with Mluleki Ntsabo and Sixolele Sotyelelwa as the two main anchor commentators.
Fri: (10am) - Six Gun Grill WP vs Imperial Lions; (2.30pm) - Northern Cape Heat vs Six Gun Grill SWD.
Sat: (10am) - Six Gun Grill WP vs Six Gun Grill SWD; (2.30pm) - Northern Cape Heat vs Imperial Lions
Sun: (10am) - Six Gun Grill SWD vs Imperial Lions; (2.30pm) - Northern Cape Heat vs Six Gun Grill WP