JOHANNESBURG – At face value Cricket South Africa’s new T20 tournament being broadcast on the SABC is a very good thing indeed.
The trouble is... well, there are a lot of problems.
Thabang Moroe’s bravado about simply ignoring the owners of the teams from the defunct T20 Global League may yet turn into another foolish statement from CSA’s new CEO.
Then there’s the SABC’s capacity to show the event given its very limited resources. The public broadcaster doesn’t have the necessary equipment to show an event that is taking place at multiple venues across the length and breadth of the country. It will apparently be getting assistance from a broadcast company based in Singapore.
There still isn’t a headline sponsor. Moroe’s thinking that the two-year contracts signed with “overseas” players last year was somehow still binding seems out of place.
Already organisers of the T10 tournament in Dubai that is set to take place at the same time as CSA’s T20 Cricket League have told players they can’t avail themselves for CSA’s tournament.
Also, those owners from the T20GL will be interested in how Moroe reckons player contracts are still binding but their agreements with CSA aren’t. That will definitely come out when the parties go to court.
Then there’s the marketing of this tournament and the impact it will have on domestic cricket.
The top tier of domestic cricket has comprised six franchises for the last 14 years; the Cape Cobras, Knights, Warriors, Dolphins, Lions and Titans have all sought to create a brand breaking away from the traditional Western Province, Northerns, Natal, Eastern Province, etc.
Now, to a very large audience courtesy of the SABC’s reach, Cricket SA is asking the public to learn six new franchises, with players who may not even be associated with the regions from which they hail or to which they are contracted.
And then there are the squad numbers. The postponed T20GL had eight teams with 18 players in each team, a total of 144 players. This year’s tournament with six teams will have 16 players, making for 96 in total.
That’s 48 fewer players and CSA still want each squad to include four “overseas” players (Kolpak contracted players are described as “overseas” players), while all 17 nationally contracted players must also be available to play.
That’s an enormous squeeze and will directly impact on a vital element of these types of tournaments - the development of young cricketers. Look at the impact the IPL, Caribbean League and the Big Bash have had on young players in those countries.
Cricket SA won’t have that in this year’s proposed version of that competition. They simply can’t afford to, because in order to sell this tournament to the public and therefore attract potential commercial support, they need the big star players participating as often as possible. Already the Proteas may miss the first two matches owing to an ODI tour to Australia in November.
The opportunity to give youngsters a chance to play alongside the stars in the game, as was the case with the T20GL, seems to be lost. All the work of CSA’s development initiatives looks like it may be wasted.@shockerhess