The SA20 cricket league kicked off in 2022 for its first season with Sunrisers Eastern Cape taking home the inaugural trophy. The cricket competition could save the sport in South Africa after years of issues. SA20 commissioner Graeme Smith believed cricket was a dying sport in the country before the T20 cricket tournament started. The innovation that the SA20 has brought to club cricket makes it a unique tournament.
Due to the quirks and rule changes the SA20 offers, it could influence other competitions to adopt similar rules. Kevin Pietersen believes that Indian Premier League should adopt a few rules the SA20 implements. The former England international has emerged as an advocate of the SA20’s rule changes. One of the rules Pietersen favours is each captain being able to nominate 13 players at the coin toss and selecting their final XI once the toss has occurred.
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Another rule Pietersen likes about the SA20 league is bonus points. The introduction of bonus points played a role in the inaugural season of the SA20, giving the cricket tournament a life of its own. In addition, the competition’s rules are designed to promote positive attacking play. Teams cannot intentionally slow down matches, making the games fast.
The SA20’s introduction came at a time in which South Africa experienced a major dip in cricket on the domestic stage. The finances around the domestic game were low and public disillusionment was high. In recent years, Cricket South Africa posted losses of more than £10 million. Only a few million pounds were available in cash reserves, and bankruptcy was a possibility.
The introduction of the new T20 cricket league was a must for the survival of the sport in South Africa. According to Smith, the sport could have “withered and died” without the SA20 league. Attendances for SA20 matches exceeded expectations. The first week of the tournament saw stadiums with a 92% occupancy rate. According to reports, the SA20’s broadcast and commercial deals likely saw it make a profit of more than a few million pounds.
Along with rule changes that could be adopted by other tournaments. The SA20 offered tickets to fans for as little as £1. However, clever tactics made it possible for teams to sell more tickets to fans. The £1 tickets had to be purchased in a block of six. This helped bring out fans and keep the money rolling into the league’s teams.
The SA20 received a large chunk of money from the IPL. Six IPL teams will pay about £75m for the next 10 years to operate the SA20 teams. The takeover by the IPL led to a major broadcast rights deal with Viacom 18. The broadcast deal is worth about £20 per year. Addition broadcasters, including Sky Sports, have also come on board to showcase the new cricket league. The SA20 is changing cricket in South Africa and could become a major player, attracting the world’s best talent.