Cricket South Africa announced yesterday that the Mzansi Super League (MSL), South Africa’s premier domestic T20 competition, has been postponed until the month of November next year. The postponed was gone through keeping in mind the logistical operations in place due to COVID-19.
CSA’s stand-in CEO Kugandrie Govender said, “As the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place in India from October to November 2021, we understand the importance of providing domestic cricketers the opportunity to impress for selection.
“Therefore, in lieu of the MSL T20, CSA will stage a single-round domestic franchise T20 competition early next year. This will give players ample time to prepare and stadiums the chance to recover financially by welcoming fans back to support their favourite domestic players.”
The third edition of the T20 league was earlier scheduled to be played in the usual November-December window with the addition of two new franchises based in Bloemfontein and East London.
Govender added, “The 2020/2021 global cricket calendar will be jam-packed, appreciating the ICC’s efforts to fit as many missed international tours due to Covid-19, into this period. The impact of revised calendars for international cricket across all ICC Members and other T20 leagues have had a knock-on effect on South African cricket scheduling.
“The COVID-19 restrictions and uncertainty around international travel, including the state of control of South African borders, as well as border control at the country points of departure of international players, also compelled CSA to make this rational decision. Also, the unavailability of national players due to a revised and saturated season would have diluted the quality that CSA envisions for MSL.”
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Coupled with these considerations, CSA also deliberated that its international broadcast revenue or earnings could decrease should the MSL tournament continue without the international and national cricket superstars that local and international fans have come to expect, especially following the first two successful editions in 2018 and 2019.
The MSL teams and headline sponsor, while equally disappointed, have expressed their understanding of CSA and reaffirmed their commitment to the MSL T20 tournament when it resumes in 2021.
“It is unfortunate but unavoidable that we have had to take this decision but maintaining the high quality of cricket that we have seen in the first two editions of the MSL is a non-negotiable for CSA. The fact that we would have to play in empty grounds was another consideration, not only financially but also for player morale and team spirit, which links to fan support.
“The atmosphere and encouragement our fans have brought to first two editions have been significant and contributed incredibly to MSL’s success. We would not want to lose out on that or the opportunity to position the league as an important way to attract new fans to the game. We look forward to returning to business as usual next season,” Govender concludes.