Graeme Smith on SA cricket's bidding process for new domestic system

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Graeme Smith (Getty Images)
Graeme Smith (Getty Images)
  • Cricket South Africa's director of cricket Graeme Smith said the bidding process to determine where the teams will participate in next season's new domestic structure is underway.
  • The six-team franchise system that has been in place since the 2003/04 season will be replaced by a 15-team set-up.
  • The 15 teams will be split into two divisions of eight and seven in a similar manner to the English County Cricket division split that came into being in 2000. 

While the men’s team is still on a soul-searching journey after a difficult Pakistan series, there is still the significant matter of the domestic restructure that’ll change the shape of cricket in South Africa.

Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket Graeme Smith, whose hands have been full with regards to the cancellation of the Australia series and the need to fill that March/early April gap with cricket, said the shifting from the six-team franchise set-up to the 15-union team from next season from a bidding perspective is underway.

He was also confident that the new system will be in place for the 2021/22 season.

The move, a contentious one that has been in pipeline since last year, was announced on January 1 where the unions, according to CSA’s press release at the time, ‘will be evaluated based on its performance, both current and historical, against defined evaluation criteria, as well as its strategic plan for running and sustaining a professional team within this new professional era at Affiliate Member level.’

The 15 teams will be split into eight and seven teams respectively with a promotion/relegation system that is like the English County Cricket one. The bidding system will determine who goes where in the two divisions.

“I have played a role in this, even though there are other team members running with the process, but the bidding process for those team is underway at the moment. There is a roll-out at the moment for the bidding process, to the contracting, to the set up. It is currently underway and if we can meet all our targets, then I wouldn’t see why that start wouldn’t be the case,” Smith said.

“CSA has defined the criteria upfront, which is why there’s a bidding process. The franchises will have to meet that and CSA had done it successfully in the Mzansi Super League. At the end of this process, there will be some disappointment for certain unions because everyone wants to be in the top eight to start with. The team has worked very hard with regards with what is required from a top flight franchise, which is why there’s a bidding process. The process is a stressful one for CSA and one that we need to get right and taking very seriously.”

One of the teething problems could be the contracting of players for the various unions as not all national team players can pigeonhole themselves at a few of the main franchises.

The Titans and the Lions provide the bulk of the national team players and also have excellent senior domestic professionals who fill out when the national campaigners are absent.

While Smith said CSA need to define all the nitty-gritties at a later stage, he also said they have consulted with the South African Cricketer’s Association with regards to the finer contracting and fiscual details.

“It is a complicated thing and it has been defined. The best thing to do now is for CSA to put out a press release detailing all of these things. We’ve spoken to Saca with regards to the contracting and the structure, the monies and right through to each plan of how the details are going to look.  To give a good document, CSA will need to define all of this in a release rather than me giving you bits and pieces,” Smith said.

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