Cricket South Africa greenlights the dissolution of franchise system

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Cricket South Africa’s (CSA’s) Members’ Council and interim executive board have accepted, in principle, the restructuring of elite domestic competitions.

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The approval comes after a long, arduous and fractious consultation process with the player’s union SACA.

Franchise cricket’s days are numbered

“CSA’s Members’ Council has resolved to accept the recommendations of the David Richardson Task Team to restructure the domestic game,” a press release reads. 

“This follows months of consultation between CSA and the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) after a roadmap for the process was initially drawn up in February 2020.

“The roadmap agreement complied with SACA’s requirement to be consulted in terms of the Recognition and Procedural Agreement of July 2018 between SACA and CSA. The recommendations from the Richardson report was presented to the CSA Interim Board. The Interim Board resolved to recommend its implementation to the Members’ Council, who in turn supported the new domestic cricket structure through the passing of a special resolution.”

CSA has been eager to restructure domestic cricket for some time with most in agreement that a six-team franchise structure was not the best model to address the challenges of cricket in South Africa.

The Acting CSA Members’ Council President, Rihan Richards said: “The resolution to accept and approve the Richardson Committee’s recommendation to restructure the domestic competition is the culmination of a process over many years. It heralds a new era for CSA and its affiliates. I must thank Dave Richardson, his committee, and all who have been involved in the process. The support that the resolution received indicates the buy-in from all the stakeholders and a commitment to strengthening South African cricket. We really hope that the system will improve not only access and opportunity at all levels but will contribute to a sustainable CSA and the game.”

 A 15-team, two division system

According to CSA, under the new structure, the current six-team franchise cricket make-up will be dissolved and replaced by a 15-team first-class system. The format will see the teams split 8-7 into a Division 1 and Division 2 arrangement with automatic promotion and relegation to be implemented. 

CSA believes this automatic promotion and relegation system will help to provide healthy tension in the system and enhance a high performance environment, while providing an opportunity for those Division 2 Members, who want to be part of a competitive first division to win their way into elite competition.

The calendar for Division 1 will be similar to the current system where the eight teams will play four-day, one-day and the Twenty20 cricket (MSL) all in a single round.

The same eight teams will also compete in a domestic T20 knockout tournament with the seven teams from Division 2, whose season will comprise of a four-day and one-day competition. Division 2 players will have an opportunity to play in the MSL via a Player Draft. Proteas and other international players will also feature in the Player Draft.

The 8-7 divisional split is set to be determined by a “Bid process” in which CSA will evaluate each Member based on performance, both current and historical, against defined Evaluation Criteria, as well as its Strategic Plan for running and sustaining a professional team within this new professional era at Affiliate Member level.

The enhancement will include: an improved contract system, an increase in the number and quality of opportunities as well as an improvement of leadership talent within CSA’s coaching structures. The proposed competition structure will offer more opportunities to players at the highest first-class domestic level, essentially widening the talent pool for the national selectors.

Furthermore, the aim is to also strengthen the development pipeline by offering a clear “line of sight” pathway for all players, wherever they may be based in the country, to progress from club cricket to international cricket.

“After considering the wide-ranging review and consultative process undertaken, the Interim Board recommended adoption of the new domestic cricket structure by the Members’ Council. This new structure will better serve our transformation goals which includes providing increased playing opportunities at the highest domestic level,” remarked Interim Board chairperson Judge Zak Yacoob.

SACA had previously objected to plans to restructure the game because the number of contracted professional players was likely to dip despite more teams competing. The player’s union have yet to comment on the restructuring.

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