Euro 2020 Special

Top names figure in SA20 auction: Several hundred players in contention for new league

Next week, the first player auction for the new South African T20 competition, which has now been named SA20, will be held. With each of the six new franchises having already signed four players each, plus having included the obligatory one uncapped player in their squads, it is now time to fill out their rosters. Each side now has a maximum of ZAR 34 million in their purse, so that money will need to be used wisely.



This is the third time that South Africa has tried to launch a franchise T20 league, and, although the two previous attempts ended in failure, this time round all the financial backing and organisation is in place to ensure it will succeed, with the broadcast rights set to bring in millions in revenue alone..

Modern cricket being what it is, though, the new league has had to compete for its place at the top table. Scheduled to begin next January, it is in direct competition with UAE’s ILT 20, which also begins the same month. Meanwhile, both the Australian Big Bash League (BBL) and the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) are also being staged at the same time.

What gives SA20 an edge, though, is that all of the new franchises are owned by existing Indian T20 franchise teams, who know how to stage a successful T20 franchise tournament. And they are already utilising their existing player relationships to attract some of the top talent.

Jos Buttler, for example, the MVP in this year’s Indian T20 league playing for the Rajasthan Royals, has been signed by the Paarl Royals. 

He is one of the two platinum rated players who have been pre-signed with the other being his England team-mate Liam Livingstone, who will play for MI Cape Town.


Clash with international cricket

The intention is for South Africa not to stage any international matches at the same time as SA20 competition, but, in the first year, this does coincide with three ODIs against England.

These matches were scheduled for 2020 but were postponed because of the global pandemic. Currently the country has not automatically qualified for the World Cup in 2023, and with the matches offering points on offer towards that, South Africa must host England.

It is hoped, in future, to avoid such clashes, but, with the cricket calendar becoming increasingly crowded, some overlaps will be inevitable.

Meanwhile, organisers hope that the tournament will have a double knock-on effect of increasing the level of interest in the country and raising the standards of local players.


Other pre-signed players

Among the other pre-signed players are stalwarts of the South African international set-up such as Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, and Aiden Markram, as well as the veteran Faf du Plessis a familiar name to Indian audiences from his years playing in the Indian T20 league.

There have also been some overseas players already picked up including the England trio of Sam Curran, Reece Topley and Moeen Ali, and the West Indians Kyle Mayers, Romario Shepherd, and Obed McCoy.


The Auction

318 players in all have been short-listed for the inaugural player auction which will take place on September 19th in Cape Town. 158 come from overseas, with the rest domestic South Africans.

A reserve price of ZAR 1.7 million has been assigned to eight players, among them former England white ball captain Eoin Morgan, Jimmy Neesham of New Zealand, and Chamika Karunaratne of Sri Lanka, who has just helped his country win the Asia Cup.

The next tier down contains 52 players who have a base price of ZAR 850,000. Among the South African players included in this bracket are Rassie van der Dussen, Lungi Ngidi, the white ball captain of their national team, and Keshav Maharaj.

Apart from them, there are 11 Sri Lankans in this price bracket, 7 West Indians, 6 Afghans, two form Australia and New Zealand and one from Ireland, England are the most represented foreign nation though, with up to 13 players in this category.

In total, England will have 54 representatives in next week’s auction followed by the West Indies with 31 and Sri Lanka with 30.

Given, though, that each squad can contain a maximum of 17 players, inevitably, there will be many disappointed when the dust finally settles in Cape Town next week.




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