Graeme Smith vouches for renewed importance of club cricket

File image: Graeme Smith (right).File image: Graeme Smith (right) represented Claremont Cricket Club.

Cricket South Africa director of cricket Graeme Smith has reiterated the renewed importance of club competition.

Semi-professional first-class and List A cricket, which used to involved many club cricket graduates, was removed when CSA restructured the country’s domestic competition earlier this year.

Franchise cricket has been dissolved, with provincial competition the new top tier.

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“We want to strengthen club cricket as it’s a big part of our pipeline,” answered Smith to a question posed by Club Cricket SA during CSA’s announcement of the Proteas’ squad for the 2021 T20 World Cup on Thursday.

“We want to create opportunities for players to move up and down. If provincial players are not involved in division one or two cricket, these provincial players can be involved in club cricket.

“It’s a good opportunity for players at all levels to interact with each other.”

Smith represented Claremont Cricket Club at amateur level during a prolific professional career.

Smith shares Hamza’ view

Smith effectively echoed Proteas batsman Zubayr Hamza’s sentiment that the new domestic structure will effectively close the gap between amateur club and professional provincial cricket.

“This new system also brings the gap closer between premier league or first division A club cricket and top-tier professional cricket in the country,” Hamza told The Heavy Roller.

Hamza played Western Province Cricket Association premier league club cricket for the University of the Western Cape as recently as November 2019. Prior to that, he represented Primrose Cricket Club in the WPCA first division A.

“It’ll be interesting to see if there are more professional cricketers at club level going forward. I know, in the Western Province at least, the level of competition at club level is really good,” he added.

“Guys coming into that, from professional cricket, are going to be under pressure to perform.”

13 contemporary examples of Proteas at club level

  1. Vernon Philander (Tygerberg Cricket Club)
  2. Wayne Parnell (Montrose Cricket Club)
  3. Kyle Verreynne (Cape Town Cricket Club)
  4. Dane Paterson (Kraaifontein Cricket Club)
  5. George Linde (Brackenfell Cricket Club)
  6. Keshav Maharaj (Delta Cricket Club)
  7. Janneman Malan (Durbanville Cricket Club)
  8. Pieter Malan (Durbanville Cricket Club)
  9. Temba Bavuma (Soweto Cricket Club)
  10. Dale Steyn (Western Province Cricket Club)
  11. Richard Levi (Claremont Cricket Club)
  12. Herschelle Gibbs (Pinelands Cricket Club)
  13. Christiaan Jonker (Robertson Cricket Club)

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