CSA will have to embrace the rich T20 leagues around the world if they want to hold on to their best players.
The emergence of the various T20 leagues, like the Indian Premier League, Big Bash League, Caribbean Premier League and Masters Champions League, have changed the game in a positive and negative way.
It’s a threat to countries like South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka but won’t affect India, England and Australia too much, as they can afford to pay their players well.
T20 leagues are a positive for the players because they enable them to earn a lot of money, but they are a negative to cricket boards who can’t afford to pay their players more.
Cricket South Africa must find a way to embrace these leagues, otherwise they run the risk of losing their top players, who will be forced to give up international cricket in favour of earning more money playing T20 cricket.
I recently experienced this myself when I was denied a NOC by Lions Cricket after I was told earlier that I would be allowed to go.
I could have earned what the Lions pay me in a year for just two and a half weeks at the MCL. I understand the position of the Lions, who didn’t want to let me go because I am an important player for them, but the system is flawed and unfair because one of my teammates at the Lions, as well as players from other franchises, did get permission to go to Dubai.
What CSA and the franchises were basically saying is that if you are a good player and important to your team’s campaign, you can’t earn good money overseas. Conversely, players who are less ‘important’ and ‘valuable’ to their franchises get to make the most money.
Is that really the message they want to send?
Some administrators handled it poorly and a solution will have to be found to make the process more fair. Otherwise we will start seeing players refusing to sign contracts and just play on a freelance basis. Financially it will be more rewarding for them and will give them more options.
We have to give credit to the Cobras CEO and board, who allowed all their players to go, and at the same time qualified for the final of the Momentum One-Day Cup. Their decision strengthens the loyalty between the players and franchise.
You can understand that CSA wants to protect its domestic competitions because of sponsors, and the franchises go along with them because they get funding from CSA. None of the franchises in the country can run without money from CSA.
But CSA must be careful because they run the risk of losing their best players, who may decide they’ve been there and done that and now it’s time to cash in. There is a real possibility that South Africa could lose their best players in the next 18-24 months if a solution is not found.
One way to go would be to establish a separate franchise system – like Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town etc – and sell them off to private owners who can then attract players from around the world to come and play in this league, for which the Proteas would also be available.
Players can earn at the CPL or MCL what CSA and their franchises pay them a year. You can’t blame players for not turning down that kind of money to secure their financial future for when they eventually retire.
That is why CSA must find a product which can compete with that because franchises are losing their best players to the MCL and it’s affecting the quality and strength of our domestic competitions.