Good news on the new T20 league!

Finally some news about the new T20. It is going to be named, soon, and so will the teams, and they  will be given names, too, and colours. All this is imminent. The chief executives of the successful stadiums (and or Franchises) will automatically qualify to be the managers of the new teams. They will also be announced very soon.

The start date of the tournament will now not be on November the 9th, as had previously been announced. It
will most likely be on the 19th, two days after the Proteas return from the one-off T20 International against Australia due to be played at the Gold Coast’s shiny new  Commonwealth Games stadium on November 17th.

“We felt it was important to have our Proteas stars play in each and every one of the games in the tournament,” said CSA chief executive, Thabang Moroe, on air during Wednesday’s second ODI against Zimbabwe.

“Oh,” said an SABC representative on hearing the news. “We agreed it would start on the 16th and finish on the 16th of December.” Moroe indicated that the grand final might be on the 19th, seven days before the first Test against Pakistan in Centurion.

But the good news is that the dates are on the very verge of being finalised.

Moroe confirmed that CSA would make every effort to avoid a repeat of the Franchise system in which the Titans are overloaded with national players and therefore unhealthily dominant: “The Proteas will be divided between the six teams with three being assigned to each one,” he confirmed. The even better news is that the draft in which squads will be decided is also imminent – “most probably on October 17th.”

Some of the eight ‘marquee’ international players who were contracted to the Global League last year “will be retained,” Moroe confirmed. Kevin Pietersen has since retired and the other seven will all be involved in the Dubai T10 which takes place From November 23 to December 3 but there is a solution to every problem and negotiations are taking place for some of them to attend the opening ceremony, do the photo-shoots and then play a couple of games before heading off to the Middle East. But they will be back for the final 10-12 days of the tournament. Better part of them than none of them. This will all be confirmed soon.

As CSA owns all of the teams and there will be no private investors in the tournament, apart from sponsors (hopefully in the future) it appears that there will be no budget for high profile coaches. And that seems sensible at this stage. Stephen Fleming, Tom Moody, Eric Simons and Gary Kirsten would all, undoubtedly, add to the quality of cricket played – and ultimately to the attractiveness of the product – but it has to start small and grow. The existing coaching staff at the host cities will have to suffice for now.

The presenters and commentators have yet to be finalised (but they will be soon.) An appetite for ‘big names’ in the commentary box is more substantial at CSA headquarters than for other aspects of the tournament but a careful balance will have to be found between producing a product which is acceptable and attractive to the home audience and seeking to ‘internationalise’ the production with high profile voices who have little, if any, knowledge of the majority of players on view.

Perhaps the biggest concession CSA have made (apparently) is with its domestic Transformation targets. It was common cause, even to the most ardent Transformationalists, than a tournament with artificial selection criteria of any sort would be a hard sell to overseas audiences – no matter how worthy the cause. The request (rather than instruction) to teams will be only to play a minimum two black African players. Having six South African teams with South African managers and coaches will ensure that is easily, and in 99% of times worthily, facilitated.

Compacting the tournament into a month from the originally scheduled six weeks will require logistical genius, a great deal of good will and a significantly increased budget, but it makes sense from a marketing point of view. Establish a small foothold in the market and expand it from there.

So that’s the news. Everything is almost done. As I said last week, there are hundreds of things which could go wrong, and many will. I will not be sitting back and saying ‘I told you so a year ago’, (even though I did.) There is nothing to be gained from that. South Africa needs this league to work. Really, really needs it to work.

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