Players lose out as South Africa puts T20 league on ice
Postponement costs star players £200,000 Tournament called off with board in disarray
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.”