South African domestic cricket in a crisis

Is domestic cricket dead and buried?

I have followed, supported and professionally administrated domestic cricket for more than fifty years and can quite honestly say I have never seen the standard or following as bad as it has been during the current season. The public support for the domestic game is literally non-existent.

Years ago on the return to international cricket, it was accepted that the first-class game was a method of development for international cricket. The support had dwindled then already but the following through the media was still healthy. The standard of cricket was excellent and the first-class system developed many very good players for South Africa. Today the standard of first-class cricket is no better than Premier League cricket in years gone by. The poor standard must be a threat to South African cricket’s international sustainability.

With regard to the white-ball competitions, they have deteriorated beyond recognition; there is literally no support in the stadiums and very little interest from the public. The Momentum Cup failed to even draw a thousand people per match; remember that the Momentum Cup is the successor of the very successful Benson & Hedges Series of years ago.

The CSA T20 Challenge is a total disaster and a bad advert for cricket, especially T20 cricket. It is being played at the same time as the Indian Premier League (IPL). The difference in quality, presentation, public interest and attendances is chalk and cheese compared to the South African version. Not that CSA can compete with the IPL, but what were they thinking when they decided to play this competition? It was obvious from the start that it would be a disaster because of the timing of it in autumn and also the Mzansi Super League having taken place earlier in the season. Simply put, there is no place for two T20 competitions in any country, never mind South Africa.

The message that this farce is sending out is that domestic cricket is truly dead and buried. It is hurting the domestic game which is already under pressure with now no support for all three domestic competitions. CSA need to be concerned about the situation of domestic cricket and need to focus on ensuring that the proposed new twelve team format is a success, both commercially and with regard to cricket standards.

In real terms this could be the last throw of the dice for domestic cricket with the next step being extinction of the domestic game in South Africa.


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