Cricket SA’s puzzling new T20 offering

Johannesburg - The confirmation from Cricket SA (CSA) that the T20 competition to replace the now defunct Global T20 will go ahead as planned has raised more questions than answers in light of the many challenges that CSA still faces.

The decision – made by the members’ council of CSA at a special meeting to make the call at yesterday’s annual general meeting – was followed by a tight-lipped, 157-word statement aimed at revealing as little as possible about what the resolution meant, and an instruction that the organisation wouldn’t comment further on the matter until its next missive.

Chief among CSA’s challenges is time given that the organisation has set itself a tournament commencement date of November 9, with the final scheduled for December 16, but it recently lost would-be equity partner SuperSport International.

CSA also has yet to secure a title sponsor and has not allocated where the six teams will play the 30 home and away games in total.

Add to that the fact that the players have yet to be sounded out on their interest in participating and you have an organisation under roughly the same pressures that led to the postponement of the Global T20 – just two months from its intended start – to the new tournament.

Even with SuperSport having withdrawn its interest in being a 49% partner in the new venture – a development that had incensed the owners who had bought Global T20 franchises – CSA still hasn’t drawn a decisive line under that failed initiative.

And, as such, one of the unanswered questions in CSA’s press release is whether the previous owners feel appeased enough by SuperSport’s departure to drop their threats of interdicting the new competition so that they can still play a part.

Also, whether CSA is shopping around for another equity partner in the wake of SuperSport doing a runner is a moot point.

While the statement quoted CSA president Chris Nenzani as saying the board had no hesitation in recommending the model to the members’ council, the fact that the competition is going ahead came as a surprise to a leading cricket administrator.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that, while CSA theoretically stood to lose R40.8 million by going ahead with the tournament while still in partnership with SuperSport, it now stood to lose R80 million in total.

But Nenzani sounded upbeat about the venture’s ability to generate revenue for CSA: “Chief executive Thabang Moroe and his management team have come with a commercial model that is both financially viable and offers promise for an exciting and long-term future that meets all the conditions laid down by the CSA board of directors.”

At yesterday’s annual general meeting, the position of the organisation’s vice-president and one nonindependent board member had to be held over until the next members’ council meeting because “a majority could not be achieved for either position”.

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