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Potentially star-studded T20 league could save SA domestic game

Six entities from India secure rights to local franchises

20 July 2022 - 16:27
SA T20 League commissioner Graeme Smith says some leading international players have already been contracted for the competition.
SA T20 League commissioner Graeme Smith says some leading international players have already been contracted for the competition.
Image: Bertram Malgas/Gallo Images

The sheer size of their spending power and their experience in this particular pursuit have seen six India-based entities secure the rights to own a franchise in SA’s T20 League set for January and February next year.

One provincial boss said the tournament could potentially save cricket in this country, as it will bring a substantial and much-needed cash injection that will take the local game out of the financial doldrums.

Previous attempts to launch a T20 tournament with a strong international flavour failed to get off the ground, but there is renewed optimism the financial muscle and expertise behind the new venture will provide staying power.  

A statement released by Cricket SA on behalf of Africa Cricket Development (Pty) Ltd said an open bid process overseen by Deloitte Corporate Finance attracted worldwide interest from 29 entities.

More than 10 venues were made available to interested bidders to own a franchise and all received expressions of interest.

The six successful bidders who will have franchises based at major cricketing centres include Reliance Industries Ltd, owners of Mumbai Indians, at Newlands; RPSG Sports Private Ltd, owners of Lucknow Super Giants, at Kingsmead; and Sun TV Network Ltd, owners of Sunrisers Hyderabad, at St George’s Park.

The others are Chennai Super Kings Cricket Ltd at the Wanderers; Royals Sports Group, owners of Rajasthan Royals; at Boland Park in Paarl; and JSW Sports, co-owners of Delhi Capitals, at SuperSport in Centurion.

All six successful bidders have extensive experience operating franchises across multiple sports and deep cricketing expertise through their ownership in the world’s leading T20 tournament, the Indian Premier League.

Newly appointed commissioner for the league Graeme Smith was thrilled to welcome the new franchise owners.

This is truly an exciting time for SA cricket — the overwhelming interest shows the country remains valued in the global cricketing ecosystem.

A robust bidding process was followed to select the final six owners, the decision was informed by a scorecard based on various criteria to ensure the utmost professionalism, independence and objectivity to the process.

The strong sports background of the respective owners and global brands they manage ensures SA cricket, and the broader industry will benefit from their expertise and resources, as they bring stability and experience to the league.”

Though the tournament is likely to clash with Australia’s popular Big Bash and the UAE T20 League, it is still expected to attract a stellar cast.

We have already contracted a number of leading international players who will be announced shortly,” Smith said.

“Combined with our strong SA player base, fans and stakeholders can be assured that the new league will showcase exciting talent and skill.”