Host of English stars including Eoin Morgan and Adil Rashid to cash in on South Africa T20 franchise
EXCLUSIVE: Host of England stars to cash in on South Africa’s T20 franchise… with Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy and Adil Rashid among 50 players up for grabs in new tournament
- Former South African captain Graeme Smith is the commissioner of the new SA20 league
- More than 50 England players will be involved in the new franchise competition
- Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali are among the league’s pre-signed English players
- Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy, Tymal Mills and Adil Rashid will be sold on Monday
Cricket will today take another big step down the T20 franchise route when more than 50 England players are auctioned for a new tournament in South Africa – which Graeme Smith hopes will grow to be second only on the world stage to IPL.
Smith, who captained South Africa in a world record 108 Tests and is commissioner of the new SA20 league, insisted the competition would provide the sport in his country with a financial lifeline.
And he warned that domestic leagues around the world would only get stronger, at a time when many fear for the future of the international game.
Graeme Smith hopes the new SA20 league will be the second biggest in the world
Five of the competition’s 22 pre-signed players are English, with the likes of Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone set to earn close to £450,000; Sam Curran, Reece Topley and Moeen Ali make up the quintet.
Four others – Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy, Tymal Mills and Adil Rashid – are in an eight-strong top class of players up for sale in Cape Town to the six franchises, all of which are bankrolled by companies that own teams in the IPL. These four will each pick up at least £85,000.
A total of 318 cricketers of 13 nationalities – though none from India – are hoping to be part of the six 17-man squads.
Moeen Ali is among five English players who have been pre-signed for clubs in the SA20 league
“It’s very important for a nation like South Africa to own something that can be a big thing commercially,” Smith said. Sports mail. ‘Cricket in South Africa has lost a bit of its gravitas.
“What world cricket does not need is for South Africa to fall back. To maintain that strength, there had to be something South African cricket had that they could cultivate. Hopefully it will benefit us like the IPL has benefited Indian cricket.’
Asked if he felt the SA20 – which will be held in January and February, clashing with Australia’s Big Bash League and another new T20 tournament in the UAE – could eclipse all rivals except the IPL, he replied: ‘It is one of our beliefs that we can place it that way.’
The cash-strapped South African board has been criticized for prioritizing the tournament over the international game, with their ODI team sacrificing a three-match series in Australia to ensure the availability of the best talent for the SA20.
Eoin Morgan is among over 50 England players to be available in Monday’s auction phase
But Smith said attempts to reschedule the ODIs had not been reciprocated by Australia and suggested it was unfair that his country regularly missed out on a large part of their home summer when the Australians consider their Boxing Day and New Year Tests in Melbourne and Sydney. as unshakable parties.
The first edition of the SA20 is likely to coincide with England’s delayed three-match ODI series in South Africa early next year, although Smith said everything would be done to avoid a direct clash.
But he added that cricket’s administrators needed to work out how to allow the coexistence of T20 leagues and the international game, saying: ‘Is cricket becoming more like a football model where it becomes home-based, with a period for international cricket and events like the World Cup?’
He also downplayed concerns about the influx of private capital, with the SA20 effectively becoming a satellite event owned by the IPL and broadcast to a large Indian audience.
“These (IPL) brands are getting stronger,” he said. ‘I have been really impressed with their care for the game. They don’t come to South Africa in a funny way. They are here, they are investing and they want cricket to succeed.’
Adil Rashid, currently on England duty in Pakistan, is another name set to feature in the SA20