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New T20 won’t sideline the locals

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Including South Africans who have signed Kolpak contracts - leaving potentially just 72 spots available for locals.

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Cricket South Africa does not believe the limited playing spots available in its new T20 competition will hamper the development initiatives which have created a number of opportunities and grown the number of players in the country, particularly from previously disadvantaged areas in the past few years.

There will be 341 players in Wednesday’s draft for the Mzansi Super League, and only 96 spots available across the six squads. Of those, at least 24 will be taken up by foreign players – including South Africans who have signed Kolpak contracts – leaving potentially just 72 spots available for locals.

That is a significantly smaller than the 144 positions available in the defunct eight-team T20 Global League, with some of the extra positions in that competition, being designated to young players who had come through Cricket SA’s broad development initiatives.

However Corrie van Zyl, who in his position as Cricket SA’s general manager has overseen a more structured and cohesive development programme that has provided many more opportunities for players doesn’t believe the fewer opportunities available in the MSL will hamper CSA’s development programmes. Cricket SA needs the big name players to sell its new product to the public which will hopefully result in big corporates throwing their financial weight behind the competition, but that could mean fewer chances for unknown young players to make an impression.

“Every player in South African cricket wants to be in the league. Only 96 of the players can make it into the league, which in itself is motivational and inspirational,” said Van Zyl, who will be the tournament’s Playing Affairs Director.

“The coaches are South African, (they) will know the players in the draft, and if a player puts their hands up in domestic competitions there is every chance for them. I don’t think it is working against what we are doing (regarding development), its enhancing what we are doing,” Van Zyl added.

At least two black African players must be included in the starting team said Van Zyl, which is one less than the requirement for domestic franchise sides.

The tournament has been beset by controversy from the time the T20 GL was postponed last year, which cost Cricket SA over R180-million following the failure to secure a TV broadcast deal and to negotiate a headline sponsor. That event had private ownership, and some of those owners are still threatening to drag Cricket SA to court because they believe their rights as owners have been infringed through a new competition being established while they were not probably reimbursed for money they pored into the event in its previous guise.

Cricket SA on Monday unveiled the name of the six teams, their logos, the marquee players – both local and foreign – for the competition which starts on November 16.

For the most part players have been put with teams from cities they’re most associated with – with the exception of Imran Tahir in Port Elizabeth and Faf du Plessis in Paarl.