CSA announces new T20 tournament in place of the T20 Global League
A flagship T20 tournament will take place in South Africa in November and December this year, but not as the T20 Global League. Instead, a yet-to-be-named competition will take place, of which CSA will be the majority shareholder and satellite television company SuperSport a part-owner. Details such as the number of teams, matches and allowances for overseas players are yet to be ironed out.
The new league will replace the stillborn T20 Global League, which was due to be played last year, was postponed three weeks before the scheduled start, and caused considerable uncertainty in South African cricket. Chiefly, the T20 Global League accounted for the departure of CSA's former CEO Haroon Lorgat, who parted ways with the organisation in September 2017 after fallouts with the board over the details of the running of the league, among other things.
The original tournament was Lorgat's brainchild and was launched in June last year in London, with seven foreign owners for the eight teams including three IPL owners and two from PSL. None of those stakeholders will be involved in the new competition, which is essentially a South African product.
Thabang Moroe, CSA's acting CEO, who will remain in place for at least the next two months, told ESPNcricinfo that the eight previous franchise owners have been refunded their deposits of USD 250,000 even though CSA had initially sought to engage them about staying involved. Two owners, however, have denied receiving a refund.
The only outside involvement in the new tournament will come from SuperSport, who will be the official broadcast partner of the league. CSA did not have a broadcast partner when it tried to launch the T20 Global League. When the T20 Global League was conceptualised, SuperSport believed it already had the rights to all cricket played in South Africa. However, their deal excluded what CSA defined as "new business", and the board sought a broadcaster abroad. At the same time, they were engaged in discussions with SuperSport, which is understood to have offered CSA much less than Lorgat wanted.
Sources have since revealed that SuperSport was also interested in owning a team in the league and eventually put together a proposal with other businesspersons to buy the league from CSA. Now, SuperSport have confirmed the involvement they desired and will contribute capital, together with CSA, to fund the new league. Moroe called the deal "the biggest in the history of South African domestic cricket, which will ensure the welfare of the game in South Africa."
No other financial details have been released at this stage, including whether there will be a player draft or auction, as there was for the T20 Global League. When the tournament was postponed, South African players were paid out 60% of their contract value and foreign players 50%. In total, the player payout amounted to around R80 million (USD 6.08 million), which made up less than half of CSA's total loss of USD 14.1 million.
There is no indication of whether the new tournament could be similarly lucrative for players this year, but CSA is committed to involving some international stars, which will doubtless increase their wage bill. The specifics around how many foreign players will be included, and other logistical details, will be discussed in the coming weeks.
Most importantly, the numbers of teams and fixtures will be of interest. The T20 Global League was due to have eight teams and 57 matches, over 44 days but the new tournament is expected to be played over a smaller window, because of South Africa's other commitments.
South Africa will tour Australia for three ODIs and two T20Is between October 31 and November 17, and then host Pakistan for a full home series from December 26, which leaves a five-week window for the new tournament to be played. The T20 Global League was due to conclude on December 16, a public holiday in South Africa which marks the start of the festive season. If the new tournament takes the same format, that reduces the window to four weeks.
The South African Cricketers' Association (SACA), that helped negotiate the player payouts from the failed T20 Global League and has been pushing for a tournament in the country welcomed the news as long overdue.
"We believe that it is critical for South Africa, as one of the world's leading cricket countries, to have its own world class T20 competition and that this is as attractive to players as some of the existing T20 leagues in other countries. Players and their performances will be at the heart of the success of the competition," Tony Irish, the SACA CEO, said in a release.
SACA said it has not been privy to any discussions between CSA and SuperSport but hope to engage with the parties as the tournament date draws closer. SACA is also in the process of finalising its MoU with CSA which should conclude by the end of the month.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent