JOHANNESBURG – There could major changes to the structure of domestic cricket – including the dissolution of the six-team franchise system – when Cricket South Africa’s Members Council meets this weekend.
The 14-strong Member Council – consisting of the provincial affiliates – will pore over various new formats this weekend, which could drastically change the landscape of domestic cricket.
“The Members have asked us to look at domestic cricket holistically, we’ve done this every year for the past three years,” said Cricket SA chief executive Thabang Moroe. “We will be making a short presentation to the members to show them where our thinking is.
“The members are concerned – they do want some level of change. As to how far they want to take those changes, we’ll know soon enough.”
The current six-team franchise system was established in 2003/04 season, and was ostensibly created to ensure a ‘strength versus strength’ system locally, which would narrow the gap between domestic and international cricket.
Many argue that it has in fact worked, and that the Proteas’ dominance in the Test arena especially between 2007 and 2014 is a good illustration of that.
However, Moroe mentioned on Wednesday that circumstances in South African cricket have also changed, and specifically the number of players the various development initiatives have produced, has increased the player pool substantially.
Everyone associated with Cricket SA recognises that there needs to be more opportunities for cricketers to play.
“Members feel that the pipeline is producing enough players, and that those players aren’t getting enough opportunities as they should be,” said Moroe
“We sat with Corrie (van Zyl, CSA manager for cricket) and looked at the number of players contracted versus the amount of games they play, together with the amount of players not contracted and the games they play, and it’s pretty lopsided.
“I’m not sure if we are contracting wrong. The players that are contracted are playing less amount of games than the players who are not contracted.”
Cricket SA have come up with various options for the Members Council to consider, from increasing the number of teams to eight, 10 or 12.
It is the latter which is understood to have the most backing, and will in all likelihood lead to return to the former provincial structure.
“CSA still has the franchise system on the table, but if it has to expand, then by how many teams?
“I’ve heard a lot of rumours, eight to 10, or straight to 12, but how will 12 work?
“Limpopo and Mpumalanga have just been accepted as new members, so where does this put them, what are the plans for them?
“That’s the kind of direction we need to get from our members, and then we can operationalise,” said Moroe.
Each proposal, Moroe explained, would be accompanied by a financial outlook, which will also be dependent on the money Cricket SA will receive from its next broadcast deal, which is currently still in the early stages of being negotiated.
“As (CSA) management, we just play an advisory role. We can never say no to anything the members decide.
“One would assume when the members make a decision, it would be for the benefit of cricket in the whole country and not just to suit one or two pockets in the country – or one or two provinces.”
Those talks will take place this weekend, although Moroe couldn’t confirm whether a final decision will be made at the meeting.
If there is to be a change, it will not be implemented for the 2019/20 season, because all the provinces and the six franchises are in the midst of contracting players for next summer.
“So, one assumes that depending on the level of changes the members choose, you could only do so for the 2020/21 season,” said Moroe.@shockerhess