New T20 League in trouble – again

    The T20 Global League’s collapse is having a far greater impact on South African cricket than any of us could have imagined. Instead of a scenario in which the country’s best player are incentivised to stay at home and commit themselves to playing in, and for, South Africa, they are now facing the same financial conundrum that existed in the early 2000s when rewards were so overwhelmingly weighted towards playing overseas that many felt they had no alternative.

    It’s not just the likes of established internationals like Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw – they were offered the security of four-year contracts amounting to more than they could have earned for the rest of their careers in SA, even if they played international cricket on a regular basis.

    If the contracts awarded players in the Global League draft had been honoured, over 120 players would have earned between 200 and 500% of their provincial or franchise contracts. It was set to be life-changing on a personal basis and game-changing for the country.

    Even with the ‘new’ T20 tournament, a CSA-Supersport partnership, those figures, approximately halved, would have made a significant difference, but now it seems highly likely there will be nothing,

    Five of the eight owners who bought Global League franchises are intent on pursuing legal action against CSA for breach of contract. The potential bill, whatever the outcome (and the portents do not look good for CSA) runs to millions of dollars. Having already paid out R180million in compensation to players, CSA cannot afford to take the chance of paying a similar amount again.

    Meetings between a four-man CSA delegation and five of the GLT20 owners in Dubai and Mumbai last week went poorly, to say the least. Correspondence from the franchise owners is clear: they want what they paid for and they will not back down. They know the income potential of a South African league – time zones and global television market forecasts predict it is the only possible challenger to the IPL.

    CSA’s current financial reserves appear healthy on the face of it – around R600million. But with just one financially viable home tour in the next three years, England in 2019-20, that cash will have all-but disappeared. The enormous infrastructure of the domestic game, incorporating age-group, provincial, franchise and women’s cricket is a hungry beast requiring at least R150 million a year to keep it alive.

    If the impasse with the dollar-based new T20 league cannot be broken, massive budget cuts will need to be made, with a decline in the growth of the game inevitable. And without the new league, prospects of regenerating income will be non-existent. Rock and a hard place.

    Now is the time for inspired leadership. Shattered bridges of trust need to be rebuilt, broken promises repaired and smashed egos soothed. It is a colossal job. According to four of the owners who have corresponded with me, the CSA response so far has been catatonic confusion and bewildered silence.

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    On a lighter, more sugary note (!)

    In case you missed it!ICC CEO Dave Richardson talking about players shining the ball illegally:

    “Over the last few months I’ve read comments from players requesting guidance on what is allowed in relation to the ball. Asking if they can chew gum, wear sunscreen or drink a sugary drink, and to be brutally honest, I find this a little disingenuous,” he said.

    What?

    “The laws are simple and straight forward – do not change the condition of the ball using an artificial substance. If you are wearing sunscreen, sucking a mint or chewing gum with the intent of using the cream or sugary saliva on the ball, you are ball tampering.”

    Who’s being disingenuous now?

    “You may not always get caught, we are not going to stop players chewing gum or from wearing sunscreen. There are many players who have chewed gum on the field throughout their careers, and never once thought to use it on the ball, but if you are caught – and we have only caught players when it is pretty obvious what they are doing – then don’t complain. Saying others do it is not a defence – you are cheating.”

    David – are you serious? Just be slightly surreptitious about what you’re doing and we’ll turn a blind eye? You can have whatever you like in your mouth, and rub it on the ball,  just don’t be too obvious about it! And if you are then we’ll ban you and call you a cheat? Bloody hell!

    Actually, I am a long-time admirer of Richardson and hope our 25-year working relationship will turn into friendship when he retires next year. He gets many more things right than most of us. Including sledging.

    “In most cases sledging-chirping is a waste of time, often resorted to by players who are trying to psyche themselves up or boost their own lack of confidence, and very often it’s counter-productive.”

    “We tried to unsettle Steve Waugh by asking him what it was like to be the unpopular twin, with Mark getting all the toys when they were growing up – it had no effect and only made him more determined, seemingly getting runs whenever he batted against us.”

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