Prince backs domestic expansion: Smaller teams will compete

Ashwell Prince (Gallo Images)
Ashwell Prince (Gallo Images)

Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince wants to see domestic cricket in South Africa expand to 12 professional provincial teams.

The theory that this will water down the quality of cricket in the country, Prince believes, is not true. 

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has been contemplating a restructure for several years now, but the decision was taken to stick with the six-team franchise format for 2020/21.

There are still changes, though, with the One Day Cup and Four-Day Franchise Series in 2020/21 seeing the six franchises split into two groups of three. In both competitions, sides will play home and away fixtures against the other sides in their group and one-off fixtures against the three sides in the other group. It means that, in the 50-over and four-day competitions, each franchise will play a minimum of seven and a maximum of eight matches. 

It is a cost-cutting measure from CSA as they plot the way forward beyond 2020/21, but Prince believes the sooner the leadership settles on the provincial extension, the better it will be for the game.

"Another make-shift tournament with seven matches or two groups of three ... I'm not convinced by that," he told media on Monday.

"I know these decisions are based on finances.

"I know people are against opening it up and going back to the 12 provinces and I know people have their reasons, but I am a firm believer that that's the way to go.

"Around the world, in England and in South Africa before the franchise system, it works."

Prince pointed to the success of provinces like Boland, Griquas and Easterns in the late 1990s and early 2000s before the franchise system was introduced.

"You might regard them as smaller teams, but if they can get a good squad of 15 together, then they can be competitive," he said.

"With players playing more regularly, they can stake a claim for higher honours. I believe there are far too many cricketers not playing regularly in South Africa, so I am a big fan of opening it up and giving more people an opportunity to play.

"Their growth would be much faster playing than just coming to training every day, because the game is the best teacher, not the coaches."

- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard

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