Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has been at the helm of laying the groundwork for the inaugural Cricket South Africa (CSA) T20 League. The Proteas caused quite a stir after electing to pull out of a three-match series against Australia in favor of their newfound T20 League.
The CSA T20 League generated an instant buzz after all six franchises were acquired by franchise owners from the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL). The first-ever edition is expected to get underway in January next year, with plenty of international players already registering for the same.
Noting the impact that the IPL owners will bring with them, Graeme Smith said in an exclusive interview with the Times Of India:
"We've been working tirelessly behind the scenes for a while now in setting this up. And now we're public with six very strong team owners who've invested in the league and South African cricket."
"It's not just the credibility that these team owners bring to the league that's important, but sustainability is hugely important too for a league of this kind."
The already existing South African T20 league has not piqued the interest of fans across the globe. But the involvement of IPL franchises along with potential big-name players is bound to attract eyeballs.
Thanking Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah for prolonging the good relations with the CSA, Graeme Smith said:
"Even when we look back at the last Indian tour, when Omicron hit, Jay and the Indian team were happy to support us and come over. The tour was hugely successful and absolutely necessary from a South African cricket perspective. So, it's nice to have those relationships"
India were initially slated to tour the Rainbow Nation for an all-format tour from December 2021 to February 2022. However, the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 threatened to call off the series.
The BCCI, however, chose to axe the four-match T20 series and proceed with the rest of the fixtures in a strict bio-bubble.
"There's a lot to learn from the BCCI considering they've built something so successful" - Graeme Smith
Owners of the Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, SunRisers Hyderabad, Lucknow Super Giants and Rajasthan Royals have made successful bids to acquire CSA T20 League franchises.
According to reports, a total of 29 parties had expressed interest in buying teams, but couldn't match the bids made by the cash-rich IPL franchise owners.
Stating that ties with India across all fronts are going to be crucial in the league's fate, Graeme Smith said:
"We'd love to attract global audiences, and particularly the Indian audience. Our partners and our relations with India is going to be the key to any kind of success we may want to achieve in this competition."
He went on to praise the BCCI, stating:
"There's a lot to learn from the BCCI considering they've built something so successful and take a lot of guidance from them."
Will the inaugural CSA T20 prove to be a huge success in comparison to the newfound UAE-based International League T20? Let us know what you think.