South African cricket franchises have been caught short by a new quota directive unilaterally imposed by Cricket South Africa.
The resolution to increase the numbers of players of colour from five to six in franchise cricket, including three black Africans, and from six to seven in provincial cricket, including four black Africans, was taken two weeks before the contract window closes and will leave most teams scrambling to make up numbers.
Tony Irish, Chief Executive of the South African Cricketers’ Association says that a late scramble for players with budgets already finalised could result in them being offered inferior financial deals, playing franchise cricket on low-paid, semi-pro contracts, or playing semi-pro cricket without a contract at all.
‘SACA’s concern is that, because most of the six franchises and 13 provincial, semi-professional, sides have finalised their player deals already, they will not have signed up enough players of colour to meet the new quota,’ he told ESPNCricinfo.
‘Many of the players playing under low-paid contracts, or without any benefits at all, will be players of colour and black African players. As a players union this isn’t acceptable to us, and it undermines the player contracting system.’
Irish was at pains to stress that the SACA was not against the decision, but the manner in which it was implemented.
‘I want to stress that it is not the decision itself which we are unhappy about. We represent all players across all colour groups, so we don’t take positions on transformation policy decisions
‘However SACA has an agreement with CSA governing the process to be followed when making changes to the numbers and this requires a three-month prior consultation with SACA and franchises before making such decisions.
‘That process is important so that franchises are able to plan their contracted players and align those with the transformation numbers. CSA has totally disregarded this agreement and has not consulted us or the franchises at all. We were unaware that this issue was even before the CSA Board.’
SACA has taken this up with CSA but received no response, according to Irish, and will now ‘consider its legal options.’ A CSA spokesperson told The Citizen newspaper that it had received a letter from SACA and concerns were being ‘addressed by the board.’