The prize money on offer to the six competing teams in South Africa’s new T20 franchise competition, SA20, has been announced.
In all, 70 million Rand (approximately US $ 4 million) will be available, the biggest prize pool in the history of South African franchise cricket. It is intended as a statement of intent – unlike previous attempts, SA20 is here to stay and that it will have a positive impact on cricket in South Africa.
The tournament will run from January 10 to February 11, with the first game featuring MI Cape Town against Paarl Royals at the Newlands ground in Cape Town.
The final will take place at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
The tournament will comprise of 33 matches – two leagues played on a round robin basis, two semi-finals, and the final itself.
The remaining teams are the Johannesburg Super Kings, the Pretoria Capitals, Durban’s Super Giants, and the Sunrisers Eastern Cape.
Those who are unaware of the background and wonder why these teams bear similar names to those that play in the Indian T20 league should know that this is no coincidence. All the franchises were awarded to owners of existing teams in the senior Indian competition – the Mumbai Indians, the Delhi Capitals, the Chennai Super Kings, the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the Lucknow Super Giants, and the Rajasthan Royals.
These were, somewhat controversially chosen over local applicants, because it was thought that they would provide the financial backing to ensure that the new league was on stable foundations from the start.
In addition, the Indian T20 league provides the blueprint of success when it comes to franchise tournaments. It is the richest and most successful domestic competition of its kind in world cricket, and SA20 are hoping that some of that will rub off on them.
The aim of the league
Apart from the obvious commercial benefits of the new competition, it is hoped that the new league will provide a wider boost to South African cricket, in terms of unearthing new talent. Commissioner Graeme Smith has spoken of unearthing “ a pool of new talent” who are able to compete at the highest level, with the hope that within a few years, they have around 30 players ready to compete at international level.
There is a perception that South Africa continues to underperform in international level, and that one of the reasons for that is that there is no depth when it comes to the talent available. SA20 will change that, it is hoped.
Each squad comprises a maximum of 17 players, composed on ten South Africans, and seven from overseas. A playing XI, though, can only have four overseas players named in it.
The composition of the teams was determined by a player auction which was held in September, with 533 players in all entering it, of which 248 were home-based.
Although the Sunrisers Eastern Cape have yet to name their captain, four of the other franchises have plumped for South Africans to lead them in their initial season, the exception being MI Cape Town who have chosen Afghan all-rounder Rashid Khan.
Elsewhere, Quinton de Kock will lead the Super Giants, Faf du Plessis the Super Kings, David Miller the Royals, and Wayne Parnell the Capitals.
Many familiar names from T20 cricket have been acquired by the various franchises, although no Indians because of the continued refusal of the BCCI to allow players from the country to sign-up for overseas leagues.
However, there is no shortage of talent, with England’s white ball captain Jos Buttler among them, fresh from leading them to the T20 World Cup. Voted the MVP in the Indian T20 league earlier this season whilst playing for the Rajasthan Royals, he was one of two players in the Platinum Salary bracket, alongside international team-mate Liam Livingstone.
Buttler is continuing his Royals’ connection by playing for the Paarl side, whilst Livingstone was recruited by MI Cape Town.
Sam Curran, who was voted Player of the Tournament in the World Cup has also been picked up by Cape Town, whilst Harry Brook, who has just scored three test centuries for England in the series against Pakistan has joined the Super Kings.
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