Play­ers lose out as South Africa puts T20 league on ice

Post­pone­ment costs star play­ers £200,000 Tour­na­ment called off with board in dis­ar­ray

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport - By Nick Hoult CRICKET NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Eoin Mor­gan and Kevin Pi­etersen are among English crick­eters fac­ing losses of up to £200,000 after the sud­den post­pone­ment of South Africa’s in­au­gu­ral Global T20 League.

Alex Hales is also likely to be £100,000 out of pocket and is wait­ing to hear if com­pen­sa­tion will be paid fol­low­ing an an­nounce­ment by Cricket South Africa yes­ter­day. Hales, who is wait­ing to hear the level of dis­ci­plinary ac­tion he faces from the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board fol­low­ing the ar­rest of Ben Stokes last month, turned down a con­tract in the Bangladesh Premier League to play in South Africa.

Hales was picked up in the first round of the player draft, earn­ing a con­tract with the Stel­len­bosch Kings. Sam Billings, Chris Jor­dan, Adil Rashid and Tom Cur­ran were also bought for £70,000-£80,000. Pi­etersen, Mor­gan and Ja­son Roy had signed sep­a­rate con­tracts out­side the draft as over­seas in­ter­na­tional icon play­ers for fees be­lieved to be around £200,000. The tour­na­ment was due to be­gin on Dec 3.

“I feel so sorry for all the young­sters who were go­ing to learn and earn out of this com­pe­ti­tion. Disas­ter for SA sport,” wrote Pi­etersen on Twit­ter. “The dol­lar goes a long way in South Africa when con­verted. To think of the num­ber of SA young­sters, play­ers about to re­tire & coaches miss­ing out this sea­son is sim­ply not good enough.”

The league was launched at a Lon­don ho­tel in June, with eight fran­chise own­ers an­nounced, but it was be­set with prob­lems. Cricket South Africa failed to se­cure a broad­cast deal and a main spon­sor. One source de­scribed the or­gan­i­sa­tion of the tour­na­ment as a “sham­bles”. Ha­roon Lor­gat, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of CSA, left his job last month be­cause of dif­fer­ences with the board over the run­ning of the league.

CSA an­nounced yes­ter­day after a hastily ar­ranged board meet­ing that the com­pe­ti­tion had been post­poned for a year, but now faces the pos­si­bil­ity of le­gal ac­tion from the 144 play­ers who had signed con­tracts. “At this stage, we’re un­sure of ex­actly what a post­pone­ment means other than the fact that it’s clear the league will not take place this year,” said Tony Ir­ish, the chief

Up­set: Kevin Pi­etersen says the botched league is ‘not good enough’ ex­ec­u­tive of the South African Crick­eters’ As­so­ci­a­tion. “We will be seek­ing clar­ity from CSA.

“This has a very sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on a large num­ber of lo­cal and over­seas play­ers, all of whom have signed con­tracts. Some turned down other op­por­tu­ni­ties. We will be look­ing at all im­pli­ca­tions of this for play­ers, in­clud­ing what com­pen­sa­tion should be paid to them.”

The post­pone­ment is a huge blow for im­pov­er­ished South African cricket. It was partly de­signed to re­ward their own crick­eters, who are among the poor­est paid in the world. A steady stream have taken Kol­pak of­fers for county cricket and CSA had hoped this com­pe­ti­tion would end the ex­o­dus. But now trust be­tween board and play­ers has been eroded fur­ther and coun­ties will be eye­ing more of South Africa’s best play­ers. With Brexit threat­en­ing to close the Kol­pak route from 2019, South Africans will now face a de­ci­sion whether to stay at home or to cash in over here.

Mean­while, the play­ers union has warned that crick­eters are “tra­di­tion­al­ists” and un­likely to sup­port four-day Test cricket as the game’s gov­ern­ing body meets this week to fi­nally give the go-ahead for a World Test cham­pi­onship.

The In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil meets from to­day un­til Friday in Auck­land and is ex­pected to an­nounce sep­a­rate league struc­tures for Test and 50-over cricket.

The Daily Tele­graph re­vealed last month the ECB’S sup­port for four­day Tests and there will be dis­cus­sions this week. Of­fi­cially the ECB says it re­mains neu­tral un­til proper plans are on the ta­ble but be­hind the scenes in­flu­en­tial fig­ures at the board sup­port a re­duc­tion from five-day to four-day Test to help with sched­ul­ing.

A four-day cham­pi­onship will not hap­pen at this stage but one-off matches to ex­per­i­ment are ex­pected with the first game start­ing in South Africa on Box­ing Day when South Africa play Zim­babwe.

But Ir­ish, also the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Fed­er­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Crick­eters’ As­so­ci­a­tions, says play­ers re­main scep­ti­cal.

“We urge the ICC and boards not to look at ad hoc so­lu­tions to Test cricket in iso­la­tion. Any pro­posed change needs to fit into what­ever the new over­all global struc­ture is go­ing to be,” he said. “If there are not sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tages in mak­ing the struc­ture and sched­ule bet­ter then why change? It’s pretty ob­vi­ous that tra­di­tion­al­ists, which in­cludes many play­ers who con­sider Test cricket as the pin­na­cle of the game, are not go­ing to be in favour of a change to four days.”

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