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News

South Africa domestic season to kick off with T20 knockout tournament

It will feature all 15 provincial teams as well as the national Under-19 side

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
11-Aug-2021
The provincial T20 tournament will give South Africa players who aren't part of the IPL match practice ahead of the T20 World Cup  •  AFP/Getty Images

The provincial T20 tournament will give South Africa players who aren't part of the IPL match practice ahead of the T20 World Cup  •  AFP/Getty Images

South Africa's domestic season is set to get underway in September with a T20 knockout tournament featuring all 15 provincial teams and the national Under-19 side. The teams have been divided into four pools of four and will play each over three days before the semi-finals and final. The group stages will be held in Kimberley and Bloemfontein, though exact fixtures have yet to be confirmed.
ESPNcricinfo understands that this tournament will not replace the Mzansi Super League, which began in 2018 but was not held last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and that the flagship franchise T20 tournament will still take place later in the year. However, the T20 knockout will provide an opportunity for provincial teams in both division one and two in the new domestic set-up to complete against each other.
It will also be the first time South Africa's new structure will be in operation, after the system was revamped over the winter. South African domestic cricket was previously made up of a top-tier of six franchises and a lower tier of 13 provincial teams. It is now a provincial-only system, with the franchises no longer in existence. The provincial structure consists of 15 teams, with eight in division one and seven in division two. Both divisions will play first-class and 50-overs cricket, the top division will compete in the MSL, and all the teams will be part of the season-opening T20 knockout.
The competition will overlap with the IPL, which will mean several of South Africa's top players will not take part, but immediately precedes the T20 World Cup and will ensure that those players who are not involved at the IPL have the opportunity for match practice before the tournament. South Africa's national team has just three T20I fixtures remaining before the World Cup, to be played on a short, white-ball tour of Sri Lanka in the first half of September.
No other fixtures for the 2021-22 season have been announced but the FTP has a busy program for the South Africa men's team. They are due to host India for three Tests and three T20Is in December-January, and to travel to New Zealand and host Bangladesh thereafter. Cricket South Africa also needs to make up fixtures against India (three ODIs which were postponed from March 2020, then rescheduled to September, and now postponed again because of the IPL) and three Tests against Australia, which were due to be played in March-April this year.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent