The postponed Twenty20 Global League will be replaced by the existing domestic Twenty20 competition in the prime November-December window, Cricket South Africa confirmed on Monday (October 23).
The CSA T20 Challenge had originally been scheduled for the end of the season, but will now begin on November 10, one week after the inaugural T20GL was scheduled to get underway. The final will be held on December 16, a public holiday in South Africa. CSA confirmed that all national players would be available for the tournament.
“This is going to be a highly competitive competition, with all our Proteas players available for selection for their respective franchises,” CSA’s acting chief executive Thabang Moroe said. “It will provide a mouth-watering appetizer before we move on to the main business of the summer with the international tours by India and Australia.”
CSA are now working to launch the T20GL in November 2018. The postponement, which was confirmed less than a month before the much-hyped tournament was meant to begin, left CSA with a gaping hole in its calendar. The domestic T20 competition has profited, moving from a window when it would have clashed with a four-Test tour by Australia.
The tournament has been known as the CSA T20 Challenge since being dropped by sponsor Ram in the wake of a match-fixing scandal in the 2015/16 season, but CSA are working on securing a new sponsor now that its profile is set to be raised.
As they have in previous seasons, teams will still be able to contract two international players. The fact that Kolpak players now fall into that bracket may limit the number of non-South Africans in the competition.
Meanwhile a change in format has seen the addition of a second knockout match. While there was previously only a qualifier for the final, played between the second and third-ranked sides in a six-team event, there will now be two semi-finals. CSA have also scheduled double-headers at certain venues, which have been a popular draw for fans in previous years.
“There will be three double-headers at SuperSport Park, PPC Newlands and St. George’s Park with the final taking place on the Day of Reconciliation Public Holiday on December 16,” confirmed Moroe.
While the players will be pleased to have some cricket – even if it is a poorer sibling of the T20 competition they were anticipating – the biggest winners from the move will be local broadcaster SuperSport, who already own the rights to the CSA T20 Challenge and will now have an enhanced product.
CSA’s failure to strike a deal with SuperSport over the T20GL rights was one of the sticking points that led to the tournament being aborted. SuperSport claimed that since they already owned the rights to all international and domestic cricket in South Africa, the T20GL should fall within their existing rights package. When CSA successfully argued that the T20GL was a new ‘international’ product, the money SuperSport offered for it was too low to make the tournament financially viable.
The collapse of the new competition, which contributed to former chief executive Haroon Lorgat departing CSA, has led to an internal investigation into how the mess was created. However there is growing support for an independent investigation, given that Moroe, his fellow administrators and the CSA board, were all culpable in the matter.