With the current cloud of chaos hanging over Cricket South Africa, it is of the utmost importance to recognise the value of club cricket to the country, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
On Wednesday night the Western Province Cricket Association announced that the local season will start in January, followed by a T20 competition.
With no fixtures confirmed yet and the risk of a second Covid-19 wave looming, it remains to be seen whether any matches take place at all this season.
With everything that has happened at the governing body in recent times and the future of South African cricket relatively unclear, it will be a tragedy if club cricket suffers the same fate.
Clubs, not only in the Western Cape but across the whole country, remain the backbone of player development even in the poorest of communities.
The financial strains on most of these clubs have no doubt been significant and, combined with the corrupt dealings and mismanagement at some, have made survival a bleak prospect in certain cases.
The club cricket structure in South Africa might have its own challenges and the growth of players towards a franchise contract is just as complicated, but for the social side and the enjoyment of playing cricket it remains a critical function of the game.
The killer blow, I believe, will be the day when these clubs – no matter how big or small – close their doors due to a lack of funds from their unions.
While a lot of clubs will survive the challenges of Covid-19, others genuinely depend on that income for their livelihood.
In some of these communities, the existence of a club is almost a matter of life or death – for everyone involved.
Clubs are the heartbeat of each province and provide the best platform for franchises to incorporate transformation along the way.
These local competitions provide our unique South African soul – they make us different to other countries in terms of our cricketing culture, which has created so much joy over the decades.
Maybe now is the time for CSA to take a deeper look at how club cricket is operating and, in the process, create a new sense of belonging and importance for the game as a whole in the country.
It might be a saving grace for the embarrassment that has unfolded at CSA.