The inaugural season of Cricket South Africa's T20 Global League, which was scheduled to begin on November 3, has been postponed to November 2018 instead.
The franchises understood that the delay in securing a stable television broadcast deal and central rights sponsorship for the tournament were the main reasons for postponing the GLT20, the brainchild of former CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat who had parted ways with the board last month.
ESPNcricinfo learned that CSA had informed all the eight franchises of the decision over the past few days. "We have not come to this decision lightly," CSA's acting CEO Thabang Moroe said. "Having discussed it with all our stakeholders including the franchise owners, we believe that the interest of the league should be our first priority. We have re-assessed our strategy and believe that postponing the first edition of the T20 Global League to next year will serve us well. We will regroup and come back stronger and better."
With less than a month to go before kickoff, the event faced numerous logistical challenges, not least the inability to secure a broadcast deal or a title sponsor, resulting in hefty financial losses. Though local broadcaster SuperSport is understood to have been close to putting pen to paper, the deal was going to be worth much less than CSA anticipated.
Last week, Moroe told reporters that CSA was bracing for a $25 million loss on the first edition of the tournament, which amounted to half of the organisation's cash reserves. He also provided an assurance that the tournament would go ahead as planned.
Moroe had taken over from Lorgat, who parted ways with CSA on September 28, after his relationship with the board became untenable. The board's unhappiness with Lorgat's methods of organisation of the T20 Global League was one of the reasons for his departure, but one of the GLT20 franchise owners told ESPNcricinfo that Lorgat's absence had created "much bigger challenges" in putting the tournament together, because he was its driving force.
"When you know that something is not right then you should not do it," the owner said. "We are half-prepared and it will be a bigger disaster if we go this way."
There was no indication that any of the current owners, seven of whom are from overseas, would withdraw from the event. Moroe met with the franchise owners on at least one occasion and was confident they remained committed to putting the tournament together. However, the time-frame was too short to put together an event of the quality CSA and the owners wanted.
The postponement of the GLT20 leaves an enormous gap in the South African cricket calendar. For six weeks in peak summer, neither the national team nor the domestic franchises will be in action because CSA had created space for the event. Zimbabwe are due to visit South Africa over Boxing Day for a four-day, day-night match that is awaiting Test status, which means that after Bangladesh's tour ends on October 29, South Africans will not see any live home cricket until December 26, unless a contingency plan is made.
With inputs from Nagraj Gollapudi, Umar Farooq and George Dobell