'Emotional' KP wants grounds packed in SA

Former England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen during a Dolphins media briefing to announce his signing ahead of the 2015/2016 Ram Slam T20 Challenge.
Former England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen during a Dolphins media briefing to announce his signing ahead of the 2015/2016 Ram Slam T20 Challenge.
Gallo Images

London - One of the major challenges awaiting the T20 Global League in South Africa is filling stadiums. 

The eight host cities, along with the franchise owners, have now been confirmed and the next step will be to ensure that quality players from all over the world sign up for the tournament. 

In order for this product to be a success, the South African cricket-loving public simply has to buy in.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has eight international marquee players who are set to be allocated a franchise on August 19. It is a star-studded list of players who have all accomplished much on the international stage, but the hope now will be that more big names are unveiled in the weeks and months to come.

One of the tournament headliners from an international perspective is Kevin Pietersen.

Now 36, the former England superstar is largely expected to join the Durban franchise, owned by Fawad Rana, who also owns Pakistan Super League franchise the Lahore Qalanders. 

Nothing has been made official yet, but given Pietersen's Pietermaritzburg heritage and the fact that he has turned out for the Dolphins in T20 cricket for the past two seasons, Durban seems a logical fit. 

"I'm super excited. South Africa means a hell of a lot to me. I lived there for 20 years and we go back there regularly. I was there last week and I'm going back in a couple weeks time," Pietersen said from London on Monday.

"It's exciting that I've still got another couple of years now to hopefully help with this franchise. It's going to be fun. It's an amazing country.

"If we can fill the stadiums I think that's something that everyone wants to see. I'm sure that this tournament will fill the stadiums.

"It will be emotional to go back and play in South Africa because I always love playing there. It'll be a fun six weeks."

Having players of Pietersen's stature surely helps in the fight to draw numbers, and another big plus is the inclusion of former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum

Now 35, the always-entertaining McCullum will be hot property for whoever lands his signature at this tournament. 

"South Africa is a great place to play cricket and I think the people of South Africa love cricket as well and I'm sure they'll get right behind the league," he said.

"I'm looking forward to immerse myself into another culture."

The other international players confirmed so far are Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle

Ticket prices will obviously also determine how many people attend matches, but nothing has been decided on in that regard. 

The competition will start in November with the final penciled in for December 16. 

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

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