Cricket South Africa, in association with SuperSport, has announced the launch of a new franchise-based T20 tournament. The first edition of the competition will be played in January 2023, immediately after South Africa’s tour to Australia. For subsequent editions, January has been marked as a dedicated window.
According to a CSA release, the tournament will feature overseas players as well, with a player auction to take place at a later date. Each team will be allowed to have up to four overseas players in the XI.
A new company formed by CSA and SuperSport will manage the tournament. “The company is looking at a very attractive player salary bill per team that will rival other leagues around the world outside of the IPL,” the release said.
The tournament will feature six privately-owned teams, who will play each other twice in a round-robin stage before the top three proceed to the playoffs. In all, 33 matches will be played over three to four weeks.
“We are excited by the formation of something this fresh and invigorating, which also offers the opportunity for private investment into the franchises,” CSA CEO Pholetsi Moseki said. “CSA has already received interest from a number of potential local and international investors.”
Marc Jury, the CEO of SuperSport, said: “We are delighted to invest in a product that will change the face of South African cricket. There is an early-year gap in the calendar, so the timing is ideal.”
SuperSport’s support for the league is crucial to getting it going, as they are CSA’s domestic broadcast partner. Without their buy-in, CSA was unable to launch the Global T20 League in 2017 and was forced to shelve plans for a franchise T20 competition.
SuperSport had argued that they were entitled to screen the Global T20 League as per their contractual agreement to show all cricket played in South Africa, but CSA disagreed and said the tournament constituted new business. They were unable to secure another broadcaster for it, which ultimately resulted in the tournament never taking place.
CSA then launched the Mzansi Super League in 2018 and gave the broadcast rights to the SABC for a minimal fee. The MSL featured eight teams and ran for two years, with CSA footing the entire bill, which amounted to over R100 million per edition. It was not played in 2020, 2021 or 2022, ostensibly because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also because CSA could no longer afford it. With SuperSport’s buy-in, they can now launch a T20 league.
The competition is expected to inject more funds into cricket in South Africa, thereby helping the game grow in the country.