South Africa’s domestic 20-over competition is likely to be moved into the window left vacant by the T20 Global League, which was postponed earlier this week. The six-team franchise competition was originally due to be played in 2018 from March 14 until April 15 but could be brought forward by four months, subject to a final board approval.
In a teleconference on Thursday, the franchise CEOs were asked to confirm the feasibility of hosting the domestic T20 in that time and assured CSA it could be done. The only outstanding tick in the box is to check with the broadcasters but unlike the T20 Global League, CSA will not need to sign a new partner. SuperSport already hold the rights of all cricket played in South Africa.
A massive boost for the domestic tournament will be that all the national players will be available to participate, which is usually not the case. That means South Africa’s players will not be granted NOCs to play in other leagues, such as the Bangladesh Premier League, in that time. It is also unlikely that international opposition will be sought over that period.
“If there is an international tour in that time, only 12 or so guys will be playing. What about the rest of the players? They can’t sit around for six weeks and not do anything,” a source told ESPNcricinfo.
CSA was believed to be exploring options for hosting one of Pakistan or West Indies but acting CEO Thabang Moroe said the board will not enter into an endeavour which will cost them money. Only incoming tours against India, England and Australia make CSA money, so any other opposition would be loss-making and CSA cannot afford to incur more expenses. Instead, they will spend money they would have spent anyway on the 20-over competition. All that remains is for them to find a sponsor for it. Courier company Ram opted not to renew their deal last season, and it was played without a corporate backer.
When the competition was called the Ram Slam, it made headlines for the wrong reasons. A protracted match-fixing investigation took place from late 2015 until July this year during which seven players including four former internationals, Gulam Bodi, Alviro Petersen, Thami Tsolekile and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, were banned for between periods of two and 20 years. CSA maintained that no actual fixing took place but there were attempts made. Last season’s 20-over tournament was a low-profile affair which was played in November-December, while the Test team was in Australia.