Cricket South Africa’s brave new world a cause for optimism and concern

Cricket South Africa’s brave new world a cause for optimism and concern
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Updated 11 January 2024
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Cricket South Africa’s brave new world a cause for optimism and concern

Cricket South Africa’s brave new world a cause for optimism and concern
  • After several failed attempts to establish a T20 league, SA20 is seen as a silver bullet for the country’s cricket issues, but Test cricket looks set to suffer

In cricket’s brave new world, the Betway T20 franchise league in South Africa is leaving some observers gasping for air.

This is because of what appears to be a brazen attitude to ensure that it succeeds at all costs. There is context to explain this. Previous attempts to introduce a T20 competition foundered. A T20 Global League was established by Cricket South Africa in 2017, but it lacked both a broadcast deal and a title sponsor, so was deferred. In its place a Mzansi Super League emerged in 2018. Matches were played between six CSA-owned teams in November and December. A second edition was played in 2019 but the 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled, ostensibly because of COVID-19.

However, another factor played its part. SuperSport is CSA’s domestic broadcast partner and its support for a T20 league is vital. This could not be agreed in 2017. CSA argued that the tournament represented new business outside the existing agreement. SuperSport disagreed and an alternative broadcaster could not be found.

When the Mzansi league was being developed, CSA and SuperSport failed to reach agreement on equity shares, leaving a broadcasting vacuum. This gap was filled by the South African Broadcasting Corporation on free-to-air, but for little money. Without private investment, the league was economically unsustainable, costing around $5.5 million to operate per edition.

Armed with these salutary lessons, CSA established SA20 in 2022 through the corporate medium of Africa Cricket Development (Pty) Ltd. Fifty percent is owned by CSA, SuperSport has 30 percent, with the balance held by a former Indian Premier League chief operating officer. The Indian connection was further cemented by the purchase of all six teams by IPL franchisees. It is not surprising, therefore, that a deal was struck by CSA to broadcast SA20 in India. This was announced in November 2022 and is with Viacom18, a joint venture between Network 18, backed by Reliance Industry Ltd., James Murdoch-Uday Shankar’s Bodhi Tree Systems and Viacom CBS. What is impressive is its 10-year duration, understood to be worth close to $10 million per year, or around $300,000 per match. So CSA went from bust to boom in six years.

The deal ensured that SA20 generated a profit in its first year compared with previous forecasts of breakeven after four to five years. This all comes at a price.

Match schedules need to fit with Indian prime time. More critically, South African cricket has been subjugated to SA20. Centrally contracted players must prioritize playing in SA20 over representing South Africa. As early as July 2022, CSA decided that an ODI series against Australia, scheduled for January 2023, would be cancelled as it clashed with SA20 dates. Even more controversially, CSA has selected an understrength squad for a two-match Test series in February in New Zealand. As reported last week, condemnation from former players abounded, amongst fears that Test cricket’s already uncertain future is being further undermined.

These fears were exacerbated by the events at Newlands, Cape Town, in the second Test match between South Africa and India, commencing on Jan. 3 and ending on Jan. 4. Records, most of them unwanted, were broken. It was the shortest-ever Test match — 107 overs and 642 balls where a winner was determined. There was a fall of the most wickets (six) without a run being scored. Dean Elgar was dismissed twice on the same day in his final Test. This had not happened since 1890. Another South African, Aiden Markram, scored 60.22 percent of his side’s second innings score, beating a previous high of 59.89 percent.

The pitch was deemed “unsatisfactory” by the match referee. Newlands is one of the world’s most iconic cricket grounds. Its infrastructure has undergone substantial redevelopment that, reportedly, requires annual debt servicing in excess of $1 million. The Western Province Cricket Association, which owns Newlands, is in serious financial difficulties. At the end of October 2023, CSA officials met with WPCA representatives to offer financial injections amounting to almost $1.4 million.

One consequence of this WPCA financial position was a decision to outsource pitch and ground curation. Whilst not doubting the caliber of the curators, Newlands is not their only place of work. It is understood that the Test match pitch was used in SA20, 2023, when Newlands received complaints for slow pitches. After the recent Test ended, curators were at work on neighboring pitches in preparation for SA20 matches. The pitch for the first Test at Gauteng was not a good one either but escaped censure.

Over the last decade or so, South African cricket has been riven by factions and allegations of financial irregularities, leading to dysfunctionality. SA20 is a silver bullet to address this. It is not far-fetched to suggest that, without it, the system would have collapsed.

Apologists will argue that the competition will inject funds into South African cricket, helping the game grow. There were sold-out stadiums in 2023. The league’s commissioner, a highly successful former captain, claims that the tournament has revived the spirit of cricket in South Africa. There is hope that it will have the same impact in developing young players that the IPL has had in India. Franchise owners are expected to invest in academies and development hubs.

The CSA is intent on giving the tournament the best possible chance to succeed, based on the mandated availability of the best South Africans, to the obvious detriment of the Test team.

Faced with disaster, it unashamedly adopted a modern mechanism, franchise cricket, as its centerfold. Maybe it hopes that the funding can be used to facilitate a revival in first-class cricket.

Critics will say that being in thrall to Indian franchisees, devaluing Test cricket, having a title sponsor in Betway, recruiting a low proportion of non-white South Africans in the squads, means that CSA, via SA20, has surrendered to cricket’s new direction of travel. This glitzy, consumer-focused world does not respect tradition, least of all South Africa’s heritage as the third-longest Test-playing nation.


Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released

Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released
Updated 7 sec ago
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Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released

Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released
  • British WBC title holder Fury takes on Ukrainian WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO champion Usyk in Riyadh

LONDON: An official song and accompanying music video have been released to promote the upcoming heavyweight boxing match between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia.

British WBC title holder Fury takes on Ukrainian WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO champion Usyk in Riyadh on May 18 at the Kingdom Arena in the “Ring of Fire” clash.

A clip for “Can’t Lose This Fight” was shared on social media by General Entertainment Authority chairman Turki Alalshikh on Friday.

“This is the fight that everyone has wanted to see for some time and now it is finally happening – the world’s two heavyweight champions going into the ring against one another,” Alalshikh said in a statement in September when the fight was announced.

“It is the biggest fight in boxing, the world will be watching, and we are so proud to be the hosts for this spectacle as part of the fourth edition of our Riyadh Season celebrations.”


Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants

Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants
Updated 32 min 16 sec ago
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Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants

Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants
  • Australian’s 55-run knock, studded with five sixes and two fours, came to an end when he holed out to Arshad Khan
  • Delhi moved to ninth in the 10-team contest after registering only their second victory

LUCKNOW: Jake Fraser-McGurk smashed a half-century on his Indian Premier League debut as Delhi Capitals thrashed Lucknow Super Giants by six wickets on Friday to reignite their hopes in the money-spinning T20 competition.
Fraser-McGurk, who had celebrated his 22nd birthday on Thursday, shared a 77-run partnership for the third wicket with captain Rishabh Pant (41) to help Delhi overhaul Lucknow’s 167-7 with 11 balls to spare.
Delhi moved to ninth in the 10-team contest after registering only their second victory from six outings.
Lucknow, who came into the match with three wins out of four, are now placed fourth.
“Spent five-six games on the sidelines itching to get out there,” said Fraser-McGurk.
“I’m so happy to be here, different world in terms of cricket. Never seen anything like it, to be able to savour eight weeks, hopefully more, is amazing.”
Delhi lost opener David Warner early with the Australian dragging a ball from Yash Thakur on to his stumps soon after he was attended to by the physio for a blow he took on his knuckles.
Prithvi Shaw (32) was caught brilliantly by Nicholas Pooran at deep midwicket off Ravi Bishnoi but Pant and Fraser-McGurk steadied the innings with their stand.
Fraser-McGurk, who went unsold in the IPL auction but came in as a replacement for Lungi Ngidi, hit Krunal Pandya for three huge sixes in a row in one over to underline his power-hitting prowess.
The Australian’s 55-run knock, studded with five sixes and two fours, came to an end when he holed out to Arshad Khan, but by then Delhi needed just 28 runs off 32 balls.
Pant went past 3,000 IPL runs before being stumped off Bishnoi for 41 off 24 balls including two sixes and four boundaries.
“We were about 15-20 runs short, we should’ve capitalized to get to 180,” said Lucknow skipper K.L. Rahul.
“McGurk was very unknown. We’ve watched a lot of videos of him but he hit the ball really well, credit to him.”
Earlier, Lucknow were off to a fine start after electing to bat but they stumbled after the powerplay, losing two wickets in two balls to left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav (3-20).
Yadav, 29, had missed Delhi’s last two matches due to an injury.
The slow bowler struck to send back Rahul (39 off 22 balls).
Rahul tried to slash the ball which was turning away and a Delhi review confirmed a nick.
Lucknow were tottering at 94-7 in the 13th over but Ayush Badoni top-scored with an unbeaten 35-ball 55 and shared 73 runs for the eighth wicket with Arshad Khan (20 not out) to ensure a fighting total on the board.
It was the first half-century this IPL season for Badoni, who hit one six and five fours.


ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham

ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham
Updated 12 April 2024
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ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham

ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham
  • Federation was seeking to promote camel sports globally
  • Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, minister of sports and chairman of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, visited pavilion

RIYADH: The International Camel Racing Federation has concluded its participation in the SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit that took place in Birmingham from April 7-11.
The ICRF was seeking to promote camel sports around the world by being present at the event.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the minister of sports and chairman of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, visited the federation’s pavilion on Tuesday, where he received an award that was presented to the SOPC.
Prince Fahad bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed, ICRF’s president and SOPC’s vice president; Dr. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee; and Robin Mitchell, president of the Association of National Olympic Committees, were present at the award presentation.
Prince Fahad said: “We are pleased with what the federation’s pavilion presented at this summit, which around 1,500 leaders and key decision-makers from over 120 international federations attended.”
Participation at the event helped publicize camel sports which, according to the ICRF’s president, have a large role in Saudi culture and are a big part of the nation’s identity.
Prince Fahad added: “The federation’s goal through this participation was to shed light on the sport of our fathers and ancestors, which Arab countries have known since ancient times until it became part of their societies.”


UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong

UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong
Updated 12 April 2024
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UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong

UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong
  • Saudi Arabia’s cricketers will get their bid for Premier Cup glory underway on Saturday when they host Malaysia

LONDON: Oman and the UAE got their Asian Cricket Council Premier Cup campaigns off to winning starts on Friday as they both look to qualify for next year’s Asia Cup.

The Emiratis beat their Gulf rivals Kuwait by seven wickets at Al-Amarat with two and a half overs to spare.

The Kuwaitis notched up 178/8 from their 20 overs, with Clinto Anto top scoring on 54 from 23 balls.

After a shaky start and a golden duck for captain Muhammad Waseem, the UAE were rarely troubled in their quest to chase down 179, with an imperious 90 runs from 48 balls from Alishan Sharafu, ably supported by Asif Khan’s 74 from seven overs, steering them home.

The Omanis, making the most of the Premier Cup competition being played on home soil, saw off Bahrain in a thriller.

Aqib Ilyas top-scored for the hosts with a solid knock of 62 from 53 deliveries as they reached 177 for the loss of three from their 20 overs.

The Bahrainis fell just four runs short of their 178 target as eight wickets fell in their innings.

Also on Friday, Qatar were resoundingly beaten in the other group of the tournament as Hong Kong set a daunting target of 202 for victory.

The Qataris started well, with opener Saqlain Arshad reaching his half-century inside six overs, but they started to lose quick wickets and ended up losing by 26 runs.

Saudi Arabia’s cricketers will get their bid for Premier Cup glory underway on Saturday when they host Malaysia in Al-Amarat.


NUFC stars Trippier, Burn invite youngsters from Newcastle’s deaf community to be mascots for Spurs match

NUFC stars Trippier, Burn invite youngsters from Newcastle’s deaf community to be mascots for Spurs match
Updated 12 April 2024
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NUFC stars Trippier, Burn invite youngsters from Newcastle’s deaf community to be mascots for Spurs match

NUFC stars Trippier, Burn invite youngsters from Newcastle’s deaf community to be mascots for Spurs match
  • Young fans met their football idols who shared the exciting news with them during a kickabout
  • The mascots will wear innovative haptic technology shirts for the game

NEWCASTLE: Several young members of the deaf community in Newcastle were on Friday invited by Newcastle United stars Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn to be mascots during the club’s Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
On Thursday, NUFC’s front-of-shirt sponsor, Sela, said they will introduce the haptic shirts — which allow deaf fans and fans with hearing loss to experience the live atmosphere — during Saturday’s match against Spurs at St. James’ Park. Haptic shirts use a technology that transforms the noise of the stadium into real-time touch sensations.
During a visit to meet young fans from the deaf community to invite them to come to the Tottenham game, Burn revealed to the youngsters: “For the Tottenham game you’re all going to be mascots. So, you get to walk out with us in front of the crowd.”


Trippier added: “To walk out in the Royal National Institute for Deaf shirts is special, and we had a good kickabout with the kids as well.”
The youngsters met their football idols at the Newcastle United Foundation where Burn and Trippier shared the exciting news with them during a friendly kickabout.
In addition to acting as mascots, the youngsters will also wear the innovative haptic technology shirts to enhance their matchday experience.
Sela has donated its front-of-shirt sponsorship rights for Saturday’s clash to RNID, a national UK charity that supports 12 million people who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by sela | صلة (@sela)


“The kids were teaching us a goal celebration, so watch out for it. I’ll probably get a few more before the end of the season,” added Burn. The children also taught the players how to sign “love the fans.”
One of the youngsters said: “I was so happy to see Kieran and Dan, it’s the best day of my life.”
Some Newcastle fans will be wearing haptic shirts with the RNID logo for the first time during the Tottenham game, while the branding will be on display around St. James’ Park and on the big screen to raise awareness of the institute’s work.
Teri Devine, associate director of inclusion at RNID, said: “We’re really grateful to Sela and to Newcastle for doing this. It’s absolutely fantastic that the players take time out to come and meet the kids, and actually get to see the barriers that deaf children face.”