Cricket South Africa has confirmed there will be no transformation targets in the Global T20 league. However, the board added that all eight franchise owners have been made mindful of its commitment to change.
CSA has a strict policy in the current domestic set-up which requires franchises to field six players of colour - including at least three black Africans - per game. The Global T20 league has been exempt from this stipulation, though it will still be expected to support the transformation agenda.
"We haven't got targets specifically but we've got the whole transformation philosophy in the prospectus," Haroon Lorgat, the CSA chief executive, said. "We asked the owners to be very mindful of what we're trying to drive as a key pillar within CSA. And in the seventh year we've got a review, which has got key performance indicators, and we reserve the right - in that seventh year - if they're not contributing along the lines of what we identify, and transformation is one of them, to cancel the licence."
The eight owners, six of them foreign, that have bought into the Global T20 league have been awarded licenses of 10 years each. They were among several bidders who had to present CSA with detailed ownership plans in line with the prospectus they had been given. That prospectus included an important commitment to development of the South African game, which Lorgat expanded on.
"One of the obligations that they've got is to adopt a hub," he said. "They've got to fund a hub. It's a commitment that they've got to make every year in their area. So that's eight hubs that will get picked up immediately. You're entitled to take more, but minimum one hub you've got to take. And if I think of some of the presentations or proposals we received, if they do what they're doing in their respective countries - if they repeat it here - they'll take on many more than one hub."
Hubs, which were established in 2014 alongside Regional Performance Centres, are aimed at previously disadvantaged communities and areas and seek to develop the game through qualified coaching and improved facilities. The hubs work with schools and clubs, provide equipment and a dedicated cricket programme. There are currently 63 hubs around the country and at least eight of them will benefit from the new T20 tournament.
Lorgat believes the franchise owners - two from South Africa, two from India, two from Pakistan, one from Hong Kong and one from Dubai - are all committed to the board's cause. "In South Africa we're all about transforming the landscape, be it cricket or be it the economy, and they are very aware of that. It's amazing - in some of the very countries that these owners come from they're challenged with similar [issues] - it may not be a black-white transformation. But it's about developing and going into areas where they can grow the game. I've no doubt we're going to learn from some of them, just as much as they're going to be learning from what we're doing."
Lorgat singled out Javed Afridi and Fawad Rana, who run the Peshawar and Lahore franchises in the Pakistan Super League, as being particularly attuned to South Africa's needs. Afridi confirmed at the event where all the owners were announced that he would be extending the Zalmi foundation's activities to South Africa.
"What's probably more relevant is the kind of passion we saw from particularly the Pakistan owners," Lorgat said. "They're doing some phenomenal development in their respective franchises in Pakistan. They've committed to bringing a lot of that into South Africa. I can see a lot of cross-pollination coming that will aid the development of the game."
Still, the issue of the lack of targets will raise concerns that the players CSA has been trying to provide sustainable opportunities to at the top level could lose out. Lorgat said he was confident the players of colour in South Africa would do as well as any other players in the draft, which takes place on August 19, but he could not deny that quotas do not sit easily with the corporate world no matter how high its community priorities.
"These are business people," he said. "Cricket is what they're primarily going for but they look beyond that. Some of them have already engaged with mayors in a city and started to talk about development plans and programmes - more than cricket."