JOHANNESBURG – Tired yet?
Well, take a deep breath, there’s still four months of cricket to go for the six domestic franchises. The domestic season only ends on May 5, with the final of the T20 Challenge.
That’s the Cricket SA T20 Challenge, carrying Cricket SA’s name because it’s sponsorless. No Ram, no Miway, no Standard Bank - just CSA.
It should also not be confused with the Africa T20, or the Mzansi Super League, the other domestic T20 tournaments that have taken place in the 2018/19 season.
In addition, the South African national men's team played 10 T20 matches this season, nine on home soil. That ninth one, against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers on March 24, was played in a stadium that was barely half full.
On the one hand there is the strange scheduling this season.
Including the Boxing Day Test, the Proteas played 21 international matches in three months, 10 of those were played at the two premier grounds in the Gauteng - SuperSport Park and the Wanderers.
This region may be the country’s economic heartland, but people purses, wallets and credit cards only stretch so far.
Those same people were asked to fork out cash for two teams in the MSL - not that they really did, given the poor crowds who came to watch the Jozi Stars and the Tshwane Spartans at those two venues.
There were some administrators in Cricket SA who did consider cancelling the T20 Challenge, until they were reminded they are actually contractually bound to put on the event by their primary broadcast partner SuperSport.
Apparently there won’t be a T20 Challenge next year, with the MSL set to hold a higher profile as the sole franchise T20 competition on the domestic calendar.
That would mean some funky negotiations with SuperSport, given that it did not show the MSL this season and its current broadcast contract with CSA - which ends next year - stipulates that there must be a domestic T20 offering.
Does that mean the MSL goes to SuperSport then?
The same SuperSport who initially entered into a partnership with CSA about establishing a T20 competition and then withdrew from that partnership and then watched as the T20 tournament was given to the SA Broadcasting Corporation for free.
It’s all very complicated and will require some careful negotiation over the next few months as those two parties hold talks about the next broadcast deal for South African cricket.
Meanwhile for the supporters, there is another four weeks of cricket.
There won’t be many household names. Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada are all at the IPL. Lungi Ngidi is injured, Aiden Markram has gone to England for a stint in county cricket.
The CSA T20 Challenge was once a pioneer event for world cricket. It was the tournament used to show off the six domestic franchises for the first time in 2003/04. There was innovative marketing, in-stadium entertainment and real colour and excitement about it. Now it’s a forgotten event at the end of a season.
It all feels a bit tired.@shockerhess