Extra franchise will put players in seventh heaven
IN between Kolpak controversy, South Africa winning a Test series, Hashim Amla’s 100th Test and Rory McIlroy getting shook up by a rather large lion, Cricket South Africa revealed some pretty important news about the lo- cal game which could have some far-reaching effects.
You may recall that the organisation got into a pickle over an independent review of the national teams last year. They eventually got on with the review, Francois Pienaar was still involved as was Adam Bacher, while Graeme Smith and Gary Kirsten were called on to give their opinions.
Oh, there was a domestic review too, involving some players, coaches, administrators and briefly me too – more of that anon.
The national review came up with seven recommendations that CSA’s Board of Directors will consider; Team Culture, appointing a Director of Cricket, making the Convener of Selectors a permanent post, how to retain talent, the role of the SA A team and High Performance Centre, Coaching and how to better utilise the expertise of former players.
From the domestic review the most significant recommendation involved the establishment of a seventh franchise. I think it’s critical that that occurs. Too many good players are sitting on the sidelines in South African cricket and CSA need to move quickly to establish that new franchise.
There was too much politicking (this is South Africa, after all) the last time this was proposed. It was way back in 2008 that the late Kader Asmal ran an inquiry which recommended eight franchises as being ideal for local cricket. That led to a bunfight about where those franchises should be located. Hopefully the CSA administration of 2016 immediately takes ownership of the establishing of the new franchise and with a detailed study of geography and, most importantly, economics, ensures such a team is set up soon, because local cricket desperately needs it.
The establishment of a seventh franchise feeds into one of the recommendations by the national review panel – retaining talent. There are too many players at various franchises playing too few games which opens up the temptation of seeking out overseas contracts or in some instances making permanent moves to other countries – New Zealand and England being the main beneficiaries. It won’t permanently halt players seeking moves elsewhere, but even if it merely slows it down, South African cricket will benefit.
A seventh franchise may even provide scope for an eighth as Asmal’s committee recommended, but that’s a debate for another Board meeting.
Overall, the recommendations are all sensible – though great care needs to be taken with regards the powers of that Director of Cricket post. Recent examples in New Zealand and Australia show it can lead to confusion, and CSA need to tread warily.