CSA TO UNSCRAMBLE ITS T20 COMPETITION WITH MSL START
Despite teething problems, the league has been raised from the ashes
When the Cape Town Blitz and the Tshwane Spartans kick off the inaugural Mzansi Super League (MSL) T20 tournament at Newlands on Friday, Cricket SA (CSA) will have done the equivalent of unscrambling scrambled egg in finally getting the competition up and running.
This is according to Titans chief executive Jacques Faul, whose franchise is hosting the Spartans in the six-team competition.
The rest of the teams are Durban Heat, Jozi Stars, Nelson Mandela Bay Giants and Paarl Rocks (see graphic). The MSL is the replacement for last year’s failed Global T20 League.
Faul said he was impressed with CSA’s recovery in producing a R10 million competition from the ashes of what should have been its Indian Premier League or Big Bash League.
“You’ve got to congratulate them for pulling it off despite their struggles, which was a bit like unscrambling scrambled eggs. They’ve done well to get to this stage,” Faul said.
These struggles have not only been welldocumented, they haven’t exactly gone away.
Lack of a headline sponsor and failure to agree on broadcast rights money with SuperSport contributed to the Global T20 being stillborn, and the CSA goes into the new competition – whose final is on December 16 – with neither.
While they have signed a broadcast deal with the broke SABC, which some claim still owes the CSA millions from a 2012 agreement, it has widely been reported that the broadcaster has not paid a cent for the rights. As one industry insider memorably described it at the time, the new contract with the SABC is “like selling your car to your cousin who doesn’t have a job”.
While the SABC deal means the MSL will have a reach of 12 million viewers – instead of near equity partners SuperSport’s 2 million viewers – and the broadcaster can on-sell the rights, whether it has the capacity to cover the event has been questioned.
With both organisations keen to keep any kind of information away from the public, there is talk of a Singapore production house being roped in to help. But while it’s a smart way of doing things because it would take the responsibility off the SABC’s hands, it’ll come at a hefty price.
Other loose ends that haven’t been tied up are rumblings that two of the owners of the Global T20 teams still intend to sue the CSA – which, depending on whom you speak to, has budgeted for a loss of R40 million or R80 million to stage the MSL – for millions of dollars in damages.
One could also count as a potential issue the fact that some coaches are disgruntled to be coaching the new teams because they didn’t get reimbursed for their “involvement” in the Global T20, but they have agreed to coach in the new league.
But, as one official said, CSA’s main concern is simply getting the competition off the ground in the hopes that the smattering of Proteas and overseas stars put on enough of a show to win over the many naysayers and attract corporate interest.
“We had a competition that we had a draft for, but it didn’t happen. You can’t blame corporates for wanting to have a look first before committing themselves. If the competition works out, they will come,” said Faul.
After all, the competition will still boast talent of the calibre of AB de Villiers and Proteas including Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Andile Phehlukwayo and Imran Tahir.
International interest will be propped up by the likes of world T20 number one bowler Rashid Khan, as well as Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Eoin Morgan.
Rookies Eathan Bosch, Sinethemba Qeshile and Tony de Zorzi will bring in the new blood.
The tournament prize money works as follows: R7 million for the winners; R2.5 million for the runners-up; R100 000 for the man of the series; and R15 000 for the man of the match at all games.