Ready, set, ehhh… go!

The South African domestic season (sort of) kicks into gear again this weekend with the start of the Ram Slam T20 Challenge (or just Ram Slam for short). Two factors have fortuitously combined to rescue the first half of the South African domestic 2017/18 season:  Firstly, in an ironic twist to the demise of the T20 Global League, the country’s best players are all available to play in the Ram Slam.  Secondly, the event has found a title sponsor. With Cricket South Africa (CSA) still reeling from the resignation of former CEO Haroon Lorgat and the shocking announcement two weeks later that the inaugural T20 Global League (T20GL) had been indefinitely postponed, few would have believed CSA would still be able to deliver a domestic T20 competition to which all fans can look forward.  To their credit, they have. In the aftermath of the T20GL cancellation there was an international … Continue reading

South African cricket dumped into chaos

  The postponement of the Global T20 League at such a late stage has dumped South African cricket into chaos. The domestic fixtures that had been finalised during the winter months have now had to be rearranged to close down the six week gap left by the postponement of the Global T20 league. Cricket South Africa made the sensible decision to replace the Global T20 League with the South African version called the CSA T20 Challenge. With all the national players available this should enhance the public interest in this competition. The other problem that the postponement has created is that half the Sunfoil Series matches (Four Day) have been completed for the season. From a cricketing point of view this is not ideal for the preparation of players for international cricket, especially, that the Proteas are due to play eight Test matches this summer. Also, financially CSA are under … Continue reading

Time to redress the imbalance

“The focus on south Asian communities, the focus on women, building a new T20, making sure that the World Cup in 2019 is a fantastic platform for growth for cricket in this country, the investment in our teams to make sure that we’re always fighting at the top of the rankings for all three formats: these are all critical things for us to ensure that the next time we go to market we’re ensuring… cricket’s future.” Sounds like familiar rhetoric coming from Cricket South Africa (CSA).  Only this time the person speaking is the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison in a recent interview with the authoritative sports news website SportsPro Media.  In the interview Harrison goes on to outline in great detail how the ECB wants to grow the game in England until 2024 and beyond, especially the role television will play in this process. … Continue reading

Test cricket in for major overhaul

The International Cricket Council (ICC) have given notice that at their next Board meeting in June 2018 they will consider major changes to the playing structure of Test cricket from 2019 onwards. There is no doubt that Test cricket needs change if it is going to survive in the modern-day cricketing world. The ICC intends to divide Test cricket into two divisions of six teams each resulting in strength versus strength system. This is an important decision for the future of Test cricket, as all the Test playing nations are not of the same level of strength. With the current system certain Test series are sub-standard and attract little or no interest. Also, it will prevent the problem that some of the major Test-playing nations like India do not play the other Test nations on a regular basis because of commercial interests. This was the major shortcoming of what was … Continue reading

In cricket, all roads lead to India

Last month the coveted broadcast and online rights for the next five editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL) were sold to Star Sports India for a staggering US$2.6 billion.  What few people know, however, is that the American social media behemoth, Facebook, entered a bid of US$600 million for the online rights to stream matches to Facebook users on the Indian sub-continent. Facebook’s bid wasn’t successful, but think about it:  The sixth most valuable company in the world in terms of market capitalization, based in America (where cricket doesn’t count) were prepared to pay US$600 million to stream cricket live online in India alone, nowhere else.  Why? According to Dan Reed, Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships, the company witnessed first-hand on Facebook how incredibly engaging the IPL is in India.  The bid for them was a no-brainer because they would’ve easily recouped that money, and then some, through … Continue reading

Why fix test cricket if it ain’t broken?

Last week my colleague wrote a column saying that playing Test cricket over four days would destroy the integrity of Test cricket and he is absolutely right. Test cricket has worked for 140 years and continues to work in the modern era, easily coexisting with One Day and T20 cricket. Test cricket is not broken, so why try and fix it? The idea of playing four day Test cricket was first mooted by Colin Graves when he became Chairman of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2015. Why would a Chairman of the ECB raise such a fundamental matter in a country where Test cricket is such a success and its biggest threat is the weather? It can only be for his ego and legacy without thinking the matter through, to the detriment of the game. If there is one country that needs five day Test cricket, it … Continue reading

An insidious erosion

Let me state it upfront:  I’m a cricket traditionalist and resent the possibility that a Test match could be played over four days. Yet, that is the distinct possibility facing the world of Test cricket.  After endless deliberations between Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the two boards announced earlier this week that their upcoming Test series in South Africa has been reduced from four to three matches.  Effectively, the decision axed the Boxing Day Test match (usually played in Durban but more recently in Port Elizabeth too).  Not wanting to deprive South African fans of Test cricket over this period, CSA took the unprecedented step of requesting the International Cricket Council (ICC) to grant Test status to a four-day, day-night match against Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth.  All indications are that permission will be granted, albeit strictly as a “trial” exercise.  A … Continue reading

Is the great rivalry over?

  The great rivalry between the Springboks and All Blacks began way back in 1921 and the two teams have played each other on 94 occasions since. However, recent results like the 57/0 defeat in Albany last week and the 57-17 defeat in Durban last year, suggest that the traditional rivalry between these two great rugby nations is under threat. The Springboks are no longer the force they were in years gone by. The records show that New Zealand has won 56 matches and the Springboks 35 with three being drawn. However, before the professional era in 1992 the Springboks had a better win record against the All Blacks having won 53% of the matches against them. In the professional era the Springboks win ratio has dropped to 26% against the men in black. So what has been the cause that the Springboks have lost ground and continue to lose … Continue reading

Bumper cricket season in store

South African cricket fans can look forward to a bumper season of international and domestic cricket, with a particular highlight the inaugural T20 Global League (T20GL). The season has already officially started, albeit rather low key, with the third edition of the Africa T20 Cup.  The first round of the competition, won by Namibia, was somewhat overshadowed by the T20GL draft but hopefully the competition will heat up over the final two weekends.  The previous two seasons were the launch pad for the careers of Lungi Ngidi (who has since gone on to represent South Africa) and Patrick Kruger. The domestic 4-day competition, the Sunfoil Series, starts on 19 September.  Cricket South Africa (CSA) has broken with the tradition of having these games played from a Thursday to a Sunday.  First-class was traditionally played over weekends, but that came from an era when it still attracted good crowds.  As a … Continue reading

Two further additions to the T20 circuit

South Africa and Afghanistan have launched their own T20 tournaments that will take place between now and the end of the year. World cricket now has seven T20 tournaments and England will be added to this list in 2020. This will leave only New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe of the full nations of the International Cricket Council (ICC) without a global T20 tournament. International cricket and the global tournaments need the best players in the world to be marketable and commercially viable. This raises the question, can the two co-exist together successfully in the interests of cricket or will there be a casualty, and who will that casualty be? The Indian Premier League is played in a window when there is little or no international cricket, so no trends emerge from this tournament. The Big Bash in Australia is the best barometer to see if international cricket and global … Continue reading