Cricket South Africa have announced the Colts fixtures for the 2023-24 season.
Colts cricket will return to South African domestic competition after a one-season absence.
Colts cricket had effectively been reintroduced for the 2021-22 season, after provincial replaced franchise competition.
At the same time, amateur colts replaced semi-professional cricket, which previously supported franchise competition.
Budget restraints and other factors, however, saw Cricket South Africa suspend colts cricket for the 2022-23 season.
In May 2023, though, Western Province Cricket Association chief executive officer Michael Canterbury confirmed the return of colts cricket.
“Colts three-day and one-day cricket will make a return this season. This is fantastic for the transition of academy and other players to professional level,” said Canterbury at the time.
Download 2023-24 Colts cricket fixtures
‘Three-day cricket a really good stepping stone’
Without colts cricket, division one and two provincial players not selected for a 4-Day Domestic Series or One-Day Cup XI largely returned to club competition.
Western Province batsmen Daniel Smith and Gavin Kaplan were examples of this during the 2022-23 season. When not selected for Western Province, Smith and Kaplan played for Claremont Cricket Club and Western Province Cricket Club, respectively.
The return of colts cricket will ostensibly narrow the gap between club and professional cricket again.
“The return of colts cricket into the South African cricket landscape is great for the pipelines of all the unions and for Cricket South Africa itself,” Northern Cape head coach Mark Charlton told Club Cricket SA.
“It gives an opportunity to the young players to learn, develop and pit their skills against the best players in a similar age group.
“It allows professional players who are not playing in the senior teams to stake a claim, push hard for selection and get some cricket under their belts. It also allows young players to play three-day cricket, which is a really good stepping stone to professional four-day cricket.”