Africa T20 Cup is about unearthing gems
As it turns out, there is more to Kimberley than just a bottomless pit. There is also a charming shisa nyama, which serves its fare inside an old double-decker bus, and a helping of chicken, T-bone and wors, with pap and salad, still comes in under R50.
Oh, and there also happens to be a great thirst for cricket.
There is more than the odd game going on in the streets, and there was a half-decent crowd that turned up for last weekend’s instalment of the inaugural Africa T20 Cup.
It was only half decent because someone decided that it would be a good idea to charge an entrance fee for this tournament. That surely has to be revisited. For one thing, the point of this tournament is to grow the game, taking it to parts of the country usually starved of decent action on a regular basis.
To then charge patrons for lending support, even at the current rate of R20 for adults and R10 for children, seems counter-productive.
Let them spend that money inside, at one of the vendors rather, as they sit back and watch and learn these new names they must get familiar with.
Next year, the Africa T20 Cup will go to other parts of the country hugging the coast, in places like East London and Pietermaritzburg.
That is all very well, but when you cannot convince those patrons to pay for a decent franchise scrap on a Friday night, you will be hard-pressed to get them paying for three nights in a row of upcoming players.
The other bone of contention is the number of franchise players within each team.
While these more familiar names give the cricket a bit more attraction, an over-population of them in the highlights reels would suggest they are perhaps taking away from what the original point of the competition was…
And that is to unearth potential, young players coming out of the club cricket structure and the Under-19s, who haven’t quite made it to the big time yet.
Before the final round of group action in Bloemfontein this weekend, almost every game had been influenced by a former or current international or, at worst, an established franchise player.
It is akin to playing the Boks in the Vodacom Cup, to help bring up the standard of those around them.
Of course, some may argue that several of the current Boks may struggle to keep up with the pace, even at that Vodacom level, but that is a point for another day.
What Cricket SA have unearthed is a great concept, one which looks set to grow. Certainly, it is a god-send for the neighbouring countries who have been invited to take part in the tournament.
For them, this is as close as it will get to proper competition before they head off to play internationals against other associate members.
Perhaps, in time, we will see the event grow to include the likes of Uganda and beyond, and maybe even see one group play its matches outside these shores.
That is down the road. For now, the final weekend awaits, and it is likely to return to Kimberley, thanks to their hospitality and their charm.
If you do happen to pop in, enjoy the cricket and, should you get ravenous, there is a decent braai just across the road from the hotel.
All you need is R50, to fill up that hole in the system, and then go back and see about the next generation…