JOHANNESBURG – Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Monday confirmed the postponement of the Mzansi Super League for the 2020/21 season citing travel restrictions – which would have meant the absence of international players – among its reasons for doing so.
The move is no surprise given the continued lack of clarity around overseas travel with the government yet to announce which countries will be allowed to fly citizens into South Africa.
“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,” Cricket SA’s acting CEO, Kugandrie Govender, wrote in a letter addressed to the federation’s commercial partners.
“Also, the unavailability of national players due to a revised and saturated season, would have diluted the quality that CSA envisions for MSL,” she added.
“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.”
Govender said the decision to postpone the MSL was not taken lightly. “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.”
The MSL has been a loss making entity for CSA since it was put together as a replacement for the T20 Global League in 2018. It operated without a headline sponsor in its first two seasons while a deal to broadcast the competition on the state broadcaster, the SABC, brought little direct income, although it did give the event access to more viewers than would be the case on a satellite channel.
With the exception of Boland Park, the home of the Paarl Rocks, the MSL also didn’t attract many spectators to the bigger venues which hosted the other five teams.
Cricket SA will host a T20 tournament this summer featuring the established six franchises; the Cobras, Titans, Warriors, Dolphins, Knights and Lions – in a single round format which will take place next year.
That will allow Proteas men’s head coach Mark Boucher, and the yet to be named selection convenor, with the chance to assess players with an eye on ICC T20 World Cup which will be held in October/November 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,” Govender added.
Cricket SA is planning to host the MSL in the 2021/22 season.