Kevin Pietersen was a marquee signing in last year’s Ram Slam and Cricket South Africa want more such names © Getty Images
A committee tasked with undertaking a comprehensive review of South Africa’s domestic cricket structures will not look into the Ram Slam T20 competition, which will undergo a separate analysis in the hope of increasing its commercial appeal. The committee’s focus, therefore, will be more intensely trained on the second-tier provincial semi-professional competitions, which are believed to have been neglected in recent seasons.
South Africa’s domestic structure is split into two sections: the professional franchise structure which consists of six teams and a semi-professional tournament which includes 13 provincial teams and Namibia. Both divisions play a first-class, List A and 20-over competition although the franchise’s first-class fixtures are held over four days and the provincial teams play over three.
“This is something that has been a serious concern for people involved in management, because we lose a lot of players who don’t want to play in the semi-professional structures,” an insider told ESPNcricinfo. “From the time players finish school to the time they get franchise contracts, they can be in limbo. We want to look at how we can incorporate those players.”
Both sections will be reviewed by a different team to the one that has been appointed to conduct an investigation into the national sides which is much smaller. While the national teams committee is a four-person panel, the domestic review team includes 14 people, headed by the director of strategy at auditing firm EY, Michael Lalor. It includes CSA’s national academy coach, Shukri Conrad, two franchise coaches, Warriors’ Malibongwe Maketa and Titans’ Rob Walter, two national selectors Ashwell Prince and Hussein Manack, one franchise captain Omphile Ramela, a selection of commentators and a journalist.
“Nobody really knows how they came up with this group, but we are all waiting to see what they come up with,” the source said. While CSA has not put a time frame on the review, the panel are expected to reveal their findings by mid-year and it is expected to focus heavily on the provincial structures.
“One idea that has already come up is that the provinces play less 50-over cricket and more T20s. There is also some talk of increasing the number of teams and the number of contracted semi-professional players,” the insider said.
Currently, the provincial sides play 10 first-class, six 50-over matches a season and four T20s a season and the imbalance could be corrected with this review. Provincial teams contract seven players but the number could increase to 10.
A franchise expansion from six to eight teams has also been mooted although if that was to be approved it would only happen in the 2017-18 season and not next summer. Kimberley, East London and Potchefstroom are believed to be in the running as franchise bases.
Instead, next season will be the one in which CSA hopes to increase the impact of their T20 tournament, which lags behind some of the other global leagues. The Ram Slam has routinely struggled to attract big names both because of the weakening Rand and the scheduling – it often clashes with South Africa’s own international fixtures.
Next season, CSA will make national players available for the tournament and have moved a home Test against Sri Lanka from December to January to accommodate for this. They are also looking to sign several international stars and “find ways to commercialise the competition, because it can’t be done in any other format.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo