Fi­nally, SA has a T20 league of its own

Cricket SA re­veals its vi­sion for new tour­na­ment and al­ready 400 play­ers – 150 foreign – have regis­tered to par­tic­i­pate

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA

THE LAUNCH of the T20 Global League in Lon­don was met with much op­ti­mism by the cricket world, as sig­nif­i­cant de­tails were re­vealed at a plush ho­tel in Knights­bridge.

In a world al­ready awash with T20 com­pe­ti­tions, the gen­eral con­sen­sus of the T20 Global League was that it could yet carve an in­trigu­ing cor­ner for it­self in the mar­ket.

If there was any lin­ger­ing doubtabout just how se­ri­ous Cricket South Africa are about mak­ing their own way, that was cast aside by the guest list as­sem­bled at the Bul­gari Ho­tel.

Bats­man Quin­ton de Kock, now a mon­u­ment in Benoni, still quipped that he would have pre­ferred the launch to have been done in South Africa, but the in­ter­na­tional feel of the room showed why it was taken to Lon­don in the prime of sum­mer.

This was a chance to put a foot for­ward, and that is what they did. Mar­quee play­ers were bussed from Southamp­ton, and some – like De Kock – flew back in from their break at home.

The eight fran­chise cities (Jo­han­nes­burg, Pre­to­ria, Benoni, Bloem­fontein, Dur­ban, Port El­iz­a­beth, Stel­len­bosch and Cape Town) were con­firmed, as too were the own­ers.

Of the eight fran­chise own­ers, two are from South Africa, with Os­man Os­man’s Blu Blood com­pany tak­ing charge of Pre­to­ria, and the Brim­stone Group tak­ing the Stel­len­bosch fran­chise.

It was im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent that there was a strong Pak­istani con­nec­tion in the tour­na­ment, and one that may yet pave the way for more of their play­ers to be on dis­play come auc­tion time.

“This is a huge step to­wards keep­ing play­ers in the coun­try,” Test skip­per Faf du Plessis said of the league.

Du Plessis is in a wait­ing game of his own at the mo­ment, with his first child due to be born, and the Lord’s Test match loom­ing. He may yet miss that, but yes­ter­day was about a tour­na­ment that looks like it could help keep more play­ers on South African turf.

“It’s amaz­ing for our cricket, be­cause play­ers don’t need to look out­side. They will be taken care of more fi­nan­cially, so this will hope­fully go a long way to­wards keep­ing them happy,” Du Plessis en­thused.

“It’s also a chance to put em­pha­sis on do­mes­tic play­ers, and it is a great op­por­tu­nity for guys to put their names out there to the world,” Du Plessis com­mented.

“If you look at young Aussie play­ers, for ex­am­ple, a lot of them go from their do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tion into the IPL due to the ex­po­sure that the Big Bash League gets. This will do the same for our do­mes­tic play­ers,” he en­cour­aged.

There is a huge amount of po­ten­tial for South African young­sters in this com­pe­ti­tion, in the same way that the IPL has deep­ened the player pool for In­dian cricket.

Al­ready, there are over 400 player regis­tra­tions for the auc­tion that will take place on Au­gust 19 and over 150 of those play­ers are from out­side SA.

With all the money fly­ing around, it is easy to leave the legacy side of these things by the way­side. How­ever, JP Duminy said he has al­ready been in dis­cus­sions with the Cape Town Knight Rid­ers’ bosses, and spoke of ideas to in­cor­po­rate his foun­da­tion into their pro­gramme.

“It is im­por­tant to give back, bring young­sters from un­der­priv­i­leged ar­eas to the sta­dium. And also for us to go out to them,” Duminy added.

Some of the big­gest cor­po­rate play­ers in the game are into this, and they do not do things for fun. They have sensed an op­por­tu­nity for growth. They will bring play­ers from around the world, as this T20 com­pe­ti­tion looks to live up to its truly global ti­tle.

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