IOL Sport writer Lungani Zama,
Canada. Yes, Canada has a Twenty20 cricket competition. Canada. Before South Africa? Canada?!

Let that sink in, dear bok-boks, because it is a howler of depressing proportions. It is the equivalent of actually, there might be no equivalent level of acute embarrassment to this.

We winced when Bangladesh got their house in order. We shrugged it off when Pakistan got the PSL going, and then set their sights on even organising a 10-over a side slugfest.

We have even had to listen to the ECB trying to rewrite the playbook, with some bizarre 100-ball nonsense that is supposed to attract those viewers it hasn’t frightened away in shame.

But Canada? Aybo! Just the other day, Canada were realising just how popular football is (soccer to them), and a pensioner by the name of Didier Drogba is still lording it in the highlight reels across Toronto. He is nearly as big as he was in London over there, lobbing goals while having haircuts.

But a T20 competition? In Canada? While we still puzzle and wonder if we will even bother to try again after the absolute shambles that was the aborted T20 Global League nonsense.

The rest of the cricket world has their problems, but they must be quietly sniggering at the African Time we have taken over this. So many South African stars are currently lighting up the stage in the Indian Premier League, but they know that they will never get close to replicating that level of hype and enthusiasm back home.

AB de Villiers can’t walk outside his hotel in Bangalore. Ditto David Miller in Mohali, Faf du Plessis in Chennai or JP Duminy in Mumbai. That is the monster that the IPL has become, and feats of the ludicrous nature of De Villiers’ latest jaw-dropper for Royal Challengers Bangalore this week continue to fill Indian promotional pockets, simply because the organisers are good at just that - organising themselves.

It is a long, long time ago now, but South Africa started this 20/20 stuff, with that Discovery Challenge back in the early 2000s. Remember that? Do you remember the hope back then for that foetus to grow into something that the world would marvel at?

Talk is cheap, and the rest of the world snatched the golden goose and eggs of golden goodness have mushroomed around the world. Except here, of course. The blame, then, has to lie at the feet of not just the current administration, but also those who served before.

For all their lofty qualifications, and their claims to the throne, they let the mother of all opportunities slip through South African fingers. Their intellectual property has been hijacked, and turned into a bestseller by those countries who are far more decisive.

T20 domestic cricket is the jewel in the crown for most of the major Test nations now, and the IPL is the hallowed galaxy that the domestic stars try to reach out for. For over a decade now, South Africa has been overtaken by the ambitions of smaller nations, all armed with a unique selling point for their audiences.

Australians fill up the Big Bash. West Indians party through the entire CPL. Pakistanis and Arabs jig all through the PSL. What do we do? We try and catch a share of a million, and hope to keep Joe Public coming back every week.

It is not for a lack of stars that our product is weak. The very Proteas that turn out here are lauded at whichever franchise they turn out for. They have a reputation for being engaging off the field, and electrifying on it.

So, where do we go from here? Do we keep our heads in the cricketing quicksand and hope no one notices that we are still puzzling? Do we even bother anymore?

Canada, without even knowing they were in a race, have already pipped us to the promotional post. Canada!


Sunday Tribune

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