Global T20 League to go ahead in South Africa later this year
After the cancellation of the 2017 inaugural season of the league, and months of speculation throughout 2018, Cricket South Africa have finally made a concrete decision about the future of their proposed domestic T20 competition; it will go ahead this year.
The saga started in the latter stages of last year when, just months out from the start of the tournament - many of the details of which had already been organised - the event was cancelled. A large reason for the cancellation was the inability for the CSA, led by then chief Haroon Lorgat, to secure a broadcast rights deal, and the subsequently significant sum of money they stood to lose from the tournament. As a result it was called off for the year, but the suggestions were that it would run in 2018.
This remained the case until just a few weeks ago, when the CSA announced that, once again, the proposed new league was no certainty to go ahead. At that stage, they again cited potential financial issues, and the fact that they were under no obligation to run the league. As they stated at the time, the business was already being run in a financially sustainable manner, and as a result there was not necessarily a need to run the league if it wasn’t yet ready to be run.
Now, however, it has been confirmed, and hopefully this time it remains that way. Many of the details of the league are not yet finalised, including the teams, and, once again, the broadcast deal. CSA have confirmed many details of the fixture though, with the league set to kick off on November 9 and conclude on December 16. Six teams will play in the tournament - a couple less than the eight which were supposed to be involved in the 2017 version of the league - and it will include 30 matches throughout the ‘league phase’, as well as an eliminator match and a final.
Though the teams have yet to be confirmed, it seems likely that at least four of them will be the same as those which were supposed to be involved last year. Of those eight teams, four have threatened legal action against CSA if the league is run without them, meaning either those teams will be involved in the league, or there will likely be some legal repurcussions. It is not clear exactly which teams these are, but the eight which were initially chosen were the Benoni Zalmi, the Bloom City Blazers, the Cape Town Knight Riders, the Durban Qalanders, the Jo’Burg Giants, the Pretoria Mavericks, and the Stellenbosch Kings (who were to be based in Paarl).
The initial squads selected for these teams had, unsurprisingly, a large leaning towards South African players. Though there will no doubt be plenty involved this year as well, the dates mean that International 50-over South African players won’t be able to participate in the entire tournament. From October 31 to November 17, the South African ODI team will be touring Australia, meaning they will miss at least the first week and a half of the tournament. That, of course, doesn’t preclude them from playing, and there are invariably a number of players who are unavailable for parts of most domestic T20 leagues around the world.
At this stage, there are no other details about the tournament, but with it set to kick off in exactly two months there will no doubt be plenty happening over the next few weeks. Of most interest is the team rosters, but of course, before that happens, CSA needs to confirm who the six teams will actually be competing in the tournament. Expect that announcement to come very soon, and following that the squads will surely be determined relatively soon after.
There were plenty of high quality names initially intending to play in the 2017 edition of the league, and though the cancellation and lack of clarity about the league’s future probably hurt it’s brand a little bit before it even started, expect there to still be a number of high quality players involved in this tournament. At this stage, however, maybe it’s pertinent to simply hope that the league actually goes ahead this time!