There has been much to cheer about after the first week of the inaugural Africa T20 tournament. As an opportunity to give young players the chance to experience ‘big time’ cricket, it was clearly a success.
SuperSport’s coverage of the event was critical to its target – an opportunity for a host of players to experience a televised match for the first time and the ‘pressures’ which go with it. For every youngster’s stumble in front of the cameras, there was a lesson learned.
It is foolish to even attempt a judgement on the success of the concept after its first week. There are still three weeks to go before we get to the business end, but let’s be foolish. As easy as it is to criticise the teething problems and the occasional lack of quality cricket, there is far more good than bad.
The tournament will shape the game in profound ways in the years to come, not only in South Africa but in our neighbouring countries, too. But the most important effect, hopefully, will be on the tournament which, for good or bad, will determine the long-term health of the South African game. Our premier T20 tournament.
Since the dissolution of the ICC Champions League, South Africa’s Franchises have lost their ‘raison d’etre’. A combination of the prize-money on offer and the exchange rate which made it more attractive by the month, our domestic T20 became the focus of the entire season. Now it is time to stand on our own feet.
The IPL may be regarded as ‘untouchable’ in status and financial clout, but the Big Bash in Australia, the Caribbean Premier League and even the soon-to-be revamped NatWest Blast in England will prove that domestic T20 tournaments not only determine the well-being of the game in the region, but shape the future of it internationally.
South Africa needs to reinvent its game. The stakes are high. As much as traditionalists may shudder, the health and prosperity of our domestic T20 is crucial to the survival of the entire game.
The truth is, the games administrators can’t be sure about what will work and what won’t. They can commission survues and guess, but they can’t be sure. Do they go with eight city-based Franchises? Do they give two to Jo’burg and two to Cape Town, like the Big Bash did with Sydney and Melbourne, or do we include East London and Kimberley, or Potch?
Do CSA persuade SuperSport to share the coverage with a terrestrial broadcaster? That certainly worked in Australia. But the money and investment makes it extremely difficult here.
Somehow we need to build a successful, globally attractive T20 product. We need reasons, apart from money, why the world’s top players would be keen to play here.
Your ideas are not only welcome, but requested. CSA have promised to read and listen to anything and everything you contribute. Just keep it constructive!
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.