Ex­tra fran­chise will put play­ers in sev­enth heaven

The Star Late Edition - - SPORT - Stu­art Hess CRICKET WRITER

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.

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