LONDON – The launch of the T20 Global League in London was met with much optimism by the cricket world, as significant details were revealed at a plush hotel in Knightsbridge on Tuesday.
In a world already awash with T20 competitions, the general consensus of the T20 Global League was that it could yet carve an intriguing corner for itself in the market.
If there was any lingering doubt about just how serious Cricket South Africa are about making their own way, that was cast aside by the guest list assembled at the Bulgari Hotel.
Batsman Quinton de Kock, now a monument in Benoni, still quipped that he would have preferred the launch to have been done in South Africa, but the international feel of the room showed why it was taken to London in the prime of summer.
This was a chance to put a foot forward, and that is what they did.
Marquee players were bused from Southampton, and some – like De Kock – flew back in from their break at home.
The eight franchise cities (Johannesburg, Pretoria, Benoni, Bloemfontein, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Stellenbosch and Cape Town) were confirmed, as too were the owners.
Of the eight franchise owners, two are from South Africa, with Osman Osman’s Blu Blood company taking charge of Pretoria, and the Brimstone Group taking the Stellenbosch franchise.
— Venky Mysore (@VenkyMysore) June 19, 2017
It was immediately apparent that there was a strong Pakistani connection in the tournament, and one that may yet pave the way for more of their players to be on display come auction time.
“This is a huge step towards keeping players in the country,” Test skipper Faf du Plessis said of the league.
Du Plessis is in a waiting game of his own at the moment, with his first child due to be born, and the Lord’s Test match looming. He may yet miss that, but Monday was about a tournament that looks like it could help keep more players on South African turf.
“It’s amazing for our cricket, because players don’t need to look outside. They will be taken care of more financially, so this will hopefully go a long way towards keeping them happy,” Du Plessis enthused.
“It’s also a chance to put emphasis on domestic players, and it is a great opportunity for guys to put their names out there to the world.
“If you look at young Aussie players, for example, a lot of them go from their domestic competition into the IPL due to the exposure that the Big Bash League gets. This will do the same for our domestic players.”
There is a huge amount of potential for South African youngsters in this competition, in the same way that the IPL has deepened the player pool for Indian cricket.
Already, there are over 400 player registrations for the auction that will take place on August 19, and over 150 of those players are from outside South Africa.
With all the money flying around, it is easy to leave the legacy side of these things by the wayside.
However, JP Duminy says he has already been in discussions with the Cape Town Knight Riders’ bosses, and spoke of ideas to incorporate his foundation into their programme.
JP Duminy with Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore at the T20 Global League launch in London. Photo: @jpduminy21 via Twitter
“I have spoken to the owners about incorporating my foundation into some projects, if possible. It is important to give back, bring youngsters from underprivileged areas to the stadium. And also for us to go out to them,” Duminy added.
The slow release of information around the T20 Global League of the past few months suddenly exploded into Monday’s wall of noise in London.
Some of the biggest corporate players in the game are into this, and they do not do things for fun.
They have sensed an opportunity for growth, in places as diverse as Benoni, Bloemfontein and Stellenbosch. They will bring players from around the world, as this T20 competition looks to live up to its truly global title.
The next few months ought to be fascinating.