Monday, March 30, 2020

Decoding Cricket South Africa's restructure

Cricket South Africa announced sweeping new measures for the 2020-21 cricket season, ostensibly to cut costs spent on domestic cricket. The biggest change will see the First Class and One Day Cups adopt a rather strange format where there will now be two groups of three teams, instead of the old round-robin format. Having seen how unpopular the Conference system proved to be in Super Rugby, CSA has decided that it would serve as the ideal format for their restructured domestic system.
Essentially, each team plays the teams in their conference or group twice, once at home and once away. Then they face the team in the opposing conference one. Presumably, the home/away will alternate every year, for cross-conference matchups. One advantage this system has over the Super Rugby equivalent is that teams will still face each team in the competition. Largely due to the fact there are so few teams in the domestic set-up. Another advantage is that with the conferences likely to be set according to geography, this will likely lead to reduced travel costs for all the teams involved.

Costs. The real story here is that Cricket South Africa has cut the amount of domestic First Class and 50-over cricket by 30% because of cost. Due to their insistence on hosting the often lamented Mzansi Super League, CSA has had to cut corners elsewhere in other competitions. Namely, the ones which are not on TV, nor particularly well attended. It should be remembered that CSA has been forecast to lose R654 million (about $35 million) over the next four years and they have desperately sought to find a way to minimize that however possible. Previously this included doing away with the franchise system and returning to the old Districts format. A proposal which ended up in court. Now, in 2020, it seems they have decided the way forward is to simply cut the amount of games you host. Sure, this may hinder the development of South African cricketers in formats other than T20. And yes, this may lead to even longer periods of mediocrity at an international level. But CSA wants a lucrative and successful T20 tournament and they are prepared to mortgage their future to get it. WE can only hope that the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow isn't fool's gold.

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