Former International Cricket Council chief executive officer Dave Richardson played a major role in the strategic placement of 15 teams, in two tiers, across South Africa’s new first-class cricket structure.
Richardson chaired an independent evaluation committee, which placed Boland and Western Province ahead of others such as Easterns and Border in the first division – and made other key decisions.
“In addition to a detailed evaluation of each member’s performance over a four-year period against identified criteria across seven key dimensions, it also required all members to submit bids to the independent evaluation committee,” read a statement from Cricket South Africa.
“The bids were required to be strategic and forward-looking in nature, addressing seven dimensions. They were evaluated during February 2021 and followed by an audit process before the final decision was reached and presented to the CSA interim board, who approved the outcome.
“Confirmation of the structure ends months of consultation between CSA and the South African Cricketers’ Association after a roadmap for the process was initially drawn up in February 2020.”
The new system will start later this year and effectively replace franchise cricket, which was instated in 2003-04.
CSA confirmed the new structure will exist for two seasons before a promotion and relegation system will commence.
Free State in top eight, too
Head coach Allan Donald, meanwhile, has welcomed the decision to include Free State in the top tier. Donald experienced a two-division first-class structure while playing for Warwickshire in the United Kingdom several years ago.
“We are extremely proud to be named as one of the top eight teams to start our new journey next season,” said Donald.
“It has been a tense few weeks leading up to this announcement, but now that the time has come we look forward to the new challenge that’s upon us.
“The two-division system will absolutely bring the best out of our cricketers because the challenge will be to stay in the top flight every season.
“The challenge will be to remain consistent as a team and the very good cricketers will continue to rise to the top. I have experienced the two-division system in English county cricket. That system was looked at differently from all corners, but over time it was clear that it was the right way to go.
“We as Free State Cricket are super excited about what’s ahead and we look forward to raising the bar in terms of quality cricket we want to play.”