The Africa Twenty 20 Cup begins on Friday and while it’s not the glitz and glam of the Champions League Twenty20, there’s plenty to get excited about. ANTOINETTE MULLER has picked four points.
When Cricket South Africa launched the competition earlier this year, talk was focused more on the misspelling on the logo (the Arfica Twenty20 Cup) than the actual competition. With the Champions League Twenty20 (T20) now a thing of the past, this competition is actually a fairly important distraction for Cricket South Africa and its stakeholders. For Cricket South Africa’s (CSA’s) broadcaster– SuperSport – this tournament will plug the gap left by the now defunct Champions League T20.
For the venues hosting the matches, Willowmoore Park in Benoni, Senwes Park in Potchefstroom, the Diamond Oval in Kimberley and the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein, there is the potential to earn a smidgen of revenue. Bloemfontein is the only ground which has an international match schedule for the upcoming summer. The decision was taken by CSA earlier this year in a bid to boost revenue. The governing body believes that by playing international matches at stadiums that have a higher capacity and naming-rights deals, they can boost the overall revenue of the franchises and provincial unions to which money trickles down.
While only time will tell whether that will actually happen, a competitive and entertaining competition will ensure that the bums on seats and eyeballs on television benefit the feeder system – the semi-professional sides playing in the tournament. A good feeder system means a strong franchise system which, in turn, means a pool of talent for South African selectors to pick and choose from.
Beyond the bums on seats, there is also prize money up for grabs. The winners will get R300,000 out of the total prize pool of R490,000. Somewhat concerning, a title sponsor for the event has not been announced yet and while the philanthropy is admirable, it is not sustainable.
Still, as far as out-of-the-box initiatives go, this is a pretty good one from CSA. A successful tournament could mean a boost for provincial revenues next year, if a sponsor comes on board, and this is the perfect way for franchises to identify talent. The only way it could have been improved is if SABC had agreed to a broadcast deal and if some matches were played in venues in South Africa’s townships, something the eKasi challenge will do on 9 September, a match which will also be broadcast.
With that said, there is plenty of reason to look forward to the jamboree and we’ve picked four things that stand out.
The South African internationals
A number of South African internationals will be turning out for the provinces, including Hashim Amla, Vernon Philander, Rilee Rossouw, David Miller, Dean Elgar, Wayne Parnell, Temba Bavuma and Kyle Abbott. Also in the mix is the looking-for-form Quinton de Kock, fresh off a couple of tons, as well as Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Tsotsobe has not played for South Africa since 2014 and was, perhaps somewhat controversially, omitted from the World Cup squad earlier this year. He’s back and firing, though, and with a World T20 around the corner, he has a point to prove.
The young spinner is a Rwandan refugee who, along with his parents, spent five years walking to South Africa. He arrived in the country as a kid and learned his cricketing trade on the streets. He’s been making an impact at club level and, more recently provincial level, for some time now. A talented cricketer with a bright future ahead and the embodiment of spirit.
One of the best parts of this tournament is that it will allow countries from outside the Test elite to get some TV time. Namibia has been part of South Africa’s semi-pro competition for some time now, but they are joined by Kenya and Zimbabwe. The aim of the competition is, mostly, to give the youngsters some experience, but for Kenya to continue rebuilding. Since their fairytale run in the World Cup a few years ago, Kenyan cricket has gone down the drain, largely thanks to maladministration (is there ever any other reason?). The competition might not exactly be the most glamorous, but for countries who suckle on the hind teat of TV scheduling, it’ll hardly matter.
The semi-pro teams are where careers are built, but unless you have a lot of time on your hands, chances are you rarely get to see the future stars of South African cricket. The tournament will be broadcast so you have a front-row seat to all the action and some of the potential stars of South African cricket. DM
Photo: Emmanuel Sebareme.
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