Easterns coach Andre Nel admits he’s been disappointed at the structure and organising of this year’s Africa T20 Cup.
Fate repeated itself for Easterns in the second edition of the continental competition. Rain prevented Easterns from pushing for top spot in last year’s inaugural Africa T20 Cup in Benoni. The weather followed them to East London this year, as they walked away with nothing more than an eight-wicket defeat to Border.
Chatting exclusively to SACricketmagazine.com, Nel says that another early exit was just one of a number of reasons to feel deflated and disenchanted about the campaign.
The rules state that if four or matches are registered as ‘no result’, all results are null and void. It meant Zimbabwe progressed to the semi-finals in a lucky draw.
‘It was tough on the guys who won their opening games and it was tough on us, too,’ he says. ‘There must be a better way of doing things, even if there’s just a bowl-off.’
Nel, who is still in the early stages of his coaching career, having joined the Gauteng-based union last season, believes not enough cricket is being played in the curtain-raising tournament, regardless of the weather.
‘The groups could be made bigger, where two teams progress to reach a quarter-final. That allows for an extra weekend of cricket for these guys,’ he says. ‘The tournament is a great opportunity for the youngsters to play against quality provincial players. They learn a lot from playing in these events. Perhaps our more experienced guys didn’t perform too well, but the experience they were able to share with the youngsters in the dressing room was invaluable.’
An issue that affects South African cricket substantially on a domestic level is the crowd attendance and general strategies to generate popularity. Little seems to be done about it, as the T20 Challenge continues to slide further down the pecking order from the exciting atmosphere that the likes of the Big Bash League and the Natwest T20 Blast offers. It appears the bare minimum is put in place for the Africa T20 Cup, too. It’s a sentiment Nel shares.
‘It’s really disappointing not seeing the opening days of the competition televised,’ he says. There’s a lot of talent on display and the public don’t even get the chance to see them.
‘I hope the organisers learn some lessons from this year’s edition, because not enough is done to promote this tournament and make it exciting. There was no advertising in East London this weekend, so how is anyone supposed to know it’s on? People need to be made more aware of it in order to watch the games in the first place.
‘There were a few people there but it was generally very quiet. The Unions need to do more within their provinces to attract people to the tournament, and the organisers of the tournament need to structure it better to ensure that the teams get sufficient game time.
‘Test cricket is dying; T20 is supposed to be the exciting format. They need to push this tournament more and make it more entertaining, because at the moment it’s boring.
On a personal level, meanwhile, Nel doesn’t quite know what the future holds for him, with his contract due to end in March.
‘I was with Shukri Conrad for the National Performance Academy and that was a great experience. But my first season in charge with Easterns wasn’t too successful, and I got quite emotional about it all. If I’m excited I’m really excited. If I’m down then I’m really angry. That’s just the nature of who I am. I’m always up for a challenge. Hopefully I can improve with Easterns this season and get my contract renewed.’
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