No transformation 'targets' for T20 Global League

CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat
CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat
Christiaan Kotze

London - When Sushil Kumar, the owner of the Bloemfontein-based franchise in the upcoming T20 Global League, was asked about his commitment to transformation in South African cricket on Monday, his response told its own story. 

Seemingly unaware of what exactly transformation was, Kumar openly acknowledged that "this thing you discuss" was not part of the talks between himself and Cricket South Africa (CSA) when he was looking to buy a franchise. 

How can you, after all, expect a Hong Kong-based businessman - he has never been to Bloemfontein - to understand the dynamics of transformation in South African sport and society? 

That is not to say that he necessarily has to understand. Rules can be enforced. 

With a maximum of four slots allocated in each starting XI to international players, there are seven slots left for South Africans. 

In South African domestic cricket, every side must field at least six players of colour - three of whom must be black Africans - in every starting XI in every format throughout the season. 

But, when the T20 Global League starts in November this year, there will be no such stipulation.

The franchise owners have instead been encouraged to pick representative sides while they are also expected to each fund one of Cricket South Africa's hubs and regional performance centres. 

If the new franchises fail in their commitment to adequately assist in facilitating transformation then they can be held accountable and CSA can take action ... in six years' time!

CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat offered this explanation in London on Monday:

"The team owners are excited by our RPCs and hubs and they want to take some of that back to their own countries. That sort of cross-pollination can only be good for the development of the game.

"In terms of transformation, the league won’t be target specific, but the whole philosophy of transformation is in the prospectus and we have asked all the team owners to be very mindful of that. In the seventh year, there will be a review based on key performance indicators and we reserve the right to cancel the agreement with an owner if they don’t meet those, and transformation is part of that.

"The challenges of transformation are similar to some of the challenges in their own countries in terms of developing and growing the game, so we can also learn from them and they will learn from us too.

"Every franchise is obliged to adopt and fund a hub in their area. Therefore at least eight hubs, in every area of the country, will be looked after."

The simple truth is that, for a number of the new owners, developing cricket in South Africa is not the priority. Growing their brand is.  

CSA, for now, seems okay with that. While the organisation has taken a 'get it done' approach to transformation in recent years with the strict implementation of targets, they have relaxed their position this time.

After all, understanding the South African dynamic doesn't happen overnight.

"It took a couple of years to understand what was taking place and what had taken place before," West Indian superstar and international marquee player Kieron Pollard, who has represented the Cape Cobras in T20 cricket, told Sport24.

"It all depends, for the owners, on the sort of rules and regulations that are put in place for the selection of players.

"That's going to be the hardest thing.

"There are a couple of franchises from India and other parts of the world, and they are here to grow their brand. That's going to be the challenge. They want to have a brand ... they want to get the right players, the right coaches and the right people ... then it boils down to the rules and regulations."

The hope is that, given the pool of players that currently exists in South African cricket, sides will be naturally representative. 

For now, government's involvement in the tournament seems minimal. But, should they feel that black players are not being given a fair crack on the highest stage, that could change. 

The targets will remain in the domestic T20 Challenge, which will still be held this season. 

"We all have a responsibility to transform ... it has been part of the discussions with CSA," Osman Osman, the South African businessman who has bought the Pretoria franchise, said. 

The next significant step in the build-up to the tournament comes on August 19 when the player draft will take place.

*Sport24 journalist Lloyd Burnard is attending the launch as a guest of CSA...

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