Two domestic teams in South Africa, Griqualand West and Free State have merged and will be known as Gestetner-Diamond-Eagles, a central professional franchise with equal shareholding.
The two cricket boards had a meeting in Bloemfontein on Wednesday to form the franchise. The latest move was initiated by the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA), proposing that the two boards be equal partners, with the headquarters at Bloemfontein, and matches being shared between Kimberley and Bloemfontein. The De Beers Diamond Oval in Kimberley was the home ground of Griqualand West before the merger. The team colours will be a combination of the blue of Free State and the turquoise of Griqualand West.
The new board will be headed by Charlie Robinson, who was unanimously elected as chairperson in the meeting, and the administration will be handled jointly by Johan van Heerden and Brian Kidson, the respective chief executive officers of Free State and Griqualand West.
Both Robinson and Ray Mali, president of the UCBSA, highlighted the significance of this development in the context of South African cricket.
"The proceedings were conducted in a spirit of unity and cooperation", Robinson was quoted in a UCBSA press release. "Together we will ensure that the central region continues to be a successful hub for South African cricket".
Mali said: "We are absolutely delighted by this show of unity and commitment to progress between Free State and Griqualand West. This augurs well for the continued development of cricket at all levels in this important region".