"My preliminary figures tell me it could save Cricket South Africa R40 million, so the savings will be immense”
Johan van Heerden, the Knights’ chief executive, has never been one for walking a path when he can head across veld by himself.
Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) proposed changes to the first-class cricket system, an increase in the number of teams from six to 12 in the 2020/21 season, for example, is not seen by Van Heerden as it is viewed by others.
For him, it signifies happy days.
“I think a 12-team format is a good idea. My preliminary figures tell me it could save Cricket South Africa R40 million, so the savings will be immense,” he says, stressing that these aren’t official figures but ones based on his own quick jottings.
Contrary to the mainstream view, which is either negative or lukewarm about the proposals, Van Heerden also sees an “identity dividend” should the changes come to pass, with Griquas, Easterns, North-West, Border, Boland and SWD all joining the current six franchise teams to make 12 first-class provinces.
Van Heerden says that the current semi-professional system (with 13 teams below the current six franchises) is helping absolutely no one.
For this reason alone, he believes that a 12-team first-class system divided into two groups of six for all three formats is the way to go. “At the moment we’re not doing the player or the system justice in the semi-professional structure,” he says. “A guy that is 28 years old earning R100 000 a year to play cricket should really be going into business and providing for his family.”
Indeed, next year looks to be dominated by the incoming England tour and the second edition of the Mzansi Super League (MSL), interesting in itself because there are already rumours in the broadcast fraternity that SABC won’t be able to broadcast the World Cup in June, so there must be doubts about their ability to broadcast this year’s edition of the MSL.
And everything after that already has a slight feeling of after-thought until the arrival of the magnificent 12 a season later.