Cricket South Africa has made a decision, which may come to haunt them for a while. Just who’d have thought that they would withdraw from the Australia tour for the ODI’s that perhaps had all excited already?
The much-anticipated tour, slated for January 2023, therefore, now stands defunct. Although the South African board has requested Cricket Australia to see if they could reschedule the series, it seems highly unlikely that it could happen.
So why not?
Apparently, they do not have alternative dates available before the deadline of the Super League.
Having said that, CSA’s decision to turn the back on the Australia tour does raise a question.
And it’s a pertinent one.
To anyone who’d have seen the funny side of things, given despite knowing the importance of the series for it’s chances of qualification in the 2023 World Cup, South Africa still chose otherwise, it appears as though South Africa are suffering from some withdrawal symptoms.
Or maybe not.
Maybe all of this does point an area that is specifically important to the Proteas to shape the next chapter in their cricketing journey.
The T20 league.
So, without any further delay- why do South Africa need their own T20 league?
It might not be a big deal for the other cricket-playing nations, but it certainly is for South African cricket as they also deserve their own T20 league.
One aspect of this news is related to the growth of cricket in countries such as South Africa. Following multiple failed attempts to grow cricket in the country, the CSA has decided to launch a new T20 tournament. The league will consist of six clubs and begins in January 2023. The South Africa visit to Australia, whose dates overlapped in the January window, was the only obstacle to the league’s introduction.
Starting a national T20 competition without national white ball regulars would not make sense. Resultantly, the CSA opted to withdraw from the ODI series.
Some younger folks will be eager to join and hope to make it to the national team as soon as possible. How else does one attract the attention of the youth to build a cricket’s future?
A world of good for the young and up-and-coming?
You’ve probably heard about Dewald Brevis, “Baby AB”, to some. You’ve already seen how playing T20 cricket did names like JP Duminy, Pehlukwayo and others a world of good.
With next-generation talents like Brevis, Marco Jansen, and many more, who’ve benefitted from playing the game’s shortest form, the league shall hopefully have a good impact on the growth of the sport in the country.
The up-and-coming talents have already, whether for national or franchise teams, proven their worth.
That’s even as their careers are still very much taking form and shape.
Look for instance the impact of T20 cricket to someone like Brevis, now heralded as possibly the biggest find of South Africa cricket.
The 19-year-old is a truly exciting talent who displayed his hitting abilities in both the under-19 World Cup and the IPL. He was named Under-19 World Cup Player of the series after scoring 506 runs, surpassing Shikhar Dhawan’s record of 505.
Marco Jansen and Keegan Petersen have also proven their value in Test cricket by displaying talent against a top-tier side like India. After scoring 276 runs in six innings against the likes of Bumrah and Shami, Keegan was named player of the series.
He remains South Africa’s most-exciting find of late. He could perhaps even become the most dependable bat in Tests after the great Dean Elgar.
Jansen also seized the opportunity, capturing the wickets of Kohli, Rahane, and Rahul, and took a total of 19 scalps from just three matches.
The downside of not touring Australia
However, for the league to be successful, it needs high-profile players, including those who would have been part of the ODI squad in Australia.
Though instead of being there, the major stars will be at home playing in the league, and most importantly, they understand the reason behind the withdrawal from the Australia tour.
The board needs to recover their past losses
South Africa had two franchise competitions called the T20 Global League and the Mzansi Super League. The T20 Global League never got off the ground and was cancelled due to CSA’s previous losses.
The Mzansi Super League, on the other hand, was launched in 2018, with only a few international players from around the world. However, it also failed after two seasons owing to the global pandemic.
The possible reason is that CSA incurred massive losses in the past and still remain unable to recover. A board like the BCCI, which has successfully managed the IPL for the past fifteen years, receives far too much revenue from broadcasters and sponsors.
Is that the case with South Africa or even Pakistan’s PSL, the latter a very prominent T20 league?
With the IPL teams showing interest in the new Proteas league structure, this will be an incredible chance for the board as they will be able to recover their earlier losses and create a great platform to encourage the next-gen.
Given how the IPL has created a platform for both local cricketers and uncapped ones from other countries, wouldn’t it be great if they didn’t have to fly all the way to India or other countries if their home country already provided that benefit?
But, there’s more that needs attention.
There is one big issue that, should it go unresolved, could plague South Africa.
If the BBL, the South African and the UAE leagues all take place in January, followed by the PSL in February and March, given the IPL is going to have an even a bigger window starting from march, forget not that there’s the Hundred in July, and the CPL in August, we’ll have a very messy situation.
It would mean that the only available window for international cricket to operate will be September to December.
So what are we staring at? That the mother of the game called international cricket (that existed even before other leagues came about) will take a backseat in front of the offspring?
Is that even fair? Where is Cricket even heading to?
The withdrawal of South Africa from the ODI series has triggered a discussion about the shifting fortunes of bilateral series and Tests.
Where do we go from here?
T20s, according to Ravi Shastri, should only be played in the World Cup and not in bilateral series.
Truth is, if something isn’t done to rescue the currently threatened Tests and bilateral 50-over series, then we are staring at a very uncertain, if not, entirely abominable future of the sport that means so much more to us.
With Ben Stokes’ retirement from the 50-over format, experts believe that ODI cricket is starting to decline and that more cricketers would quit playing this format in the future.
With the withdrawal, South Africa’s Super League points would suffer as a result.
That’s no easy blow to endure.
The team may not be able to make it to the ODI World Cup in 2023 straightaway. They are currently ranked eleventh in the ICC Super League Table.
The top eight nations will automatically qualify for the ODI World Cup 2023, which will take place in India.
They have only two series remaining before the deadline after losing points in the Super League. Both these series are against World Cup champions India and England, respectively, thus potentially threatening their prospects of qualifying directly.
Never an easy day when you meet India or England or teams of that caliber and size, right?
Now that South Africa have made a decision, what do they do next?
South Africa will need to win both series in order to qualify directly.
Make no mistake. The Proteas have been in excellent form following the IPL, with the main players performing admirably in both the IPL and the T20I series against India.
We are already seeing what South Africa are doing in England.
Here’s something just as interesting. We are witnessing some heroic performances from the likes of Ireland and other Associate teams that have the potential to make it to the World Cup and shake the hopes of other teams, including South Africa.
Can you take a team with a Curtis Campher and Harry Tector, not to forger, Paul Stirling and George Dockrell lightly?
Posing doubts to the CSA stand and stashing dubious adjectives therewith in regards to their decision about does not seem appropriate.
If the Indian Cricket Team is permitted to choose whether or not to play Pakistan, who are we and the the cricket broadcasters, media and the bandwagon to call the Proteas names?
Therefore, truth be told, even as the call seems a tad bit irrational especially given how qualifying for the ODI World Cup isn’t now going to be a cakewalk (as if it ever was), you’re compelled to think the management must have considered all relevant factors.
Which is why it appears what happens in the next ten to eleven months to South Africa will in itself, be no less thrilling than playing any tournament of epic proportions.