Cricket South Africa (CSA) have scrapped the existing, 17-year-long six franchise domestic system and have confirmed that it will be replaced by a two-tier domestic structure that will comprise 15 first-class teams. The changes will come into effect from the 2021/22 domestic season.
In what could be described as the biggest shake up in the structure of South African cricket in this century, Cricket South Africa (CSA) have confirmed that a brand new domestic structure will supersede the ongoing six-franchise system that has been in place for 17 seasons. In a release on Friday, CSA confirmed that, come next season, the existing six-franchise system will be dissolved, and will be replaced by a 15-team first-class system.
The format, CSA revealed, will see the teams be split into two tiers - first tier 8 teams and second tier 7 teams - with relegation and promotion of sides set to be implemented to provide ‘healthy tension’. The board revealed that the decision was taken on the back of months of discussion between themselves and the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) and confirmed that the proposed changes were approved by the interim board.
“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,” Rihan Richards, the Acting CSA Members’ Council President said.
Aside from the Mzansi Super League (MSL), CSA confirmed that all 15 teams will partake in a domestic T20 knockout tournament. The board also confirmed that the MSL will incorporate a player draft, in which franchises will be able to pick players from both Tier 1 and Tier 2.
“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,” read CSA’s release.
The CSA claimed that the new structure will provide ‘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’ and added that it will also widen the talent pool in the country. Interim Board chairperson Judge Zak Yacoob, meanwhile, also noted that the new system will help the board fulfill its new and strict transformation goals.
“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,” Yacoob said.