Cricket South Africa launched a new competition on Tuesday called the Africa T20 Cup which will consist of 16 teams and be the African curtain-raiser to the 2015-16 season.
Zimbabwe, Kenya and Namibia have accepted invitations to compete in the event with the other participants being the 12 CSA Affiliates as well as Associate Member, KZN Inland.
The tournament will be a World Cup-style competition, consisting of four pools of four teams each with the winners of each pool advancing to the semi-finals and eventually to the final.
Easterns (Sahara Willowmoore Park), North West (Senwes Park), Griquas (Diamond Oval) and Free State (Mangaung Oval) will be the venues for the four pool matches and some of these venues will also host the semi-final and final depending on which teams advance and based on an assessment of the quality of venue hosting during the pool stages.
The tournament will run from September 4 to October 4.
All franchise players will play for the province at which they are contracted although a limit of four has been placed on the number to be fielded at the same time. This limit would not include the contracted Protea players who are restricted to one in the starting XI. In addition, all teams will be required to field at least two under-21 players.
Transformation targets will be the same as that which applies for the CSA semi-professional competitions (six players of colour and three black Africans).
‘This tournament is an exciting new concept for our cricket,’ commented CSA Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat.
‘It should provide impetus at the start of a season with exciting and competitive playing opportunities plus revenue generating potential for each team. We are keen to lead the way in developing an Africa-wide competition.
‘With international Twenty20 matches to follow against England and Australia later in the season, this tournament will provide an early start for players to stake a claim in next year’s ICC World Twenty20 squad.
‘A key differentiator is for each team to include two under-21 players which will give rising stars the chance to play with our fully fledged professionals. It is an important factor in developing talent that emerging players can learn from the best.
‘I am delighted that SuperSport will be providing live and full coverage of 10 playing days, including the semi-finals and final, and thank them once again for their fantastic support of South African cricket,’ concluded Lorgat.
CSA has also announced the appointment of Makhaya Ntini as the Africa T20 Cup Ambassador.
‘I am both delighted and honoured to be invited to fulfil this role,’ Ntini said. ‘The development of African cricket is something that is very close to my heart and I welcome this important initiative.’