The kind of generational Indian T20 stars that IPL has produced in the last one-and-half decades has set the template to follow for a new franchise competition like SA20, former South Africa captain and commissioner of the league Graeme Smith said on Wednesday.
“Our ambition is to be the biggest league outside India,” Smith told PTI ahead of the second season’s auction.
The SA20 comprises six franchises -- MI Cape Town, Joburg Super Kings, Durban Super Giants, Paarl Royals, Pretoria Capitals, Sunrisers Eastern Cape, all of which are owned by the owners of IPL teams.
“I think IPL was there in the beginning. It took a couple of years to develop a number of generational stars and work within BCCI managed to create outstanding depth of cricketers in India. It will be our goal too going forward,” said Smith, who has always shared a cordial relationship with the Indian board, both as player and administrator.
“The highlight of the first season of SA20 was to see some youngsters and more established stars perform together. I think they played in the competition and were exposed to best practices by franchises -- exposed to way of global thinking, getting the best coaches, best medical advice,” said Smith, who is very satisfied with how the league has shaped up in just one season.
In fact, Smith is happy that SA20 has kept a salary cap of USD 2.3 million, offering the best pay scale outside IPL.
“Our salary cap is USD 2.3 million and teams can work with significant numbers for a league outside the IPL. It gives us the ability to attract quality players,” he said.
Smith believes that SA20 brought a lot of positivity in South African cricket.
“The season 1 exceeded all the expectations. We had such a limited amount of time to get up and running and we were able to attract six partners like six global franchises,” said Smith.
As the league’s commissioner, Smith has worked tirelessly with his team to deliver a product that is acceptable in the market.
“Apart from the commercial side, it was important to bring some positivity back to South African cricket and see the fans flock to the stadium.
“Most importantly, the cricket in season 1 was outstanding. Some local young talent really stood up, global stars shone through and it was a very successful season,” he said.
In season 2, each franchise can buy up to 15 players with six uncapped ones, which will also help South Africa promote its own local talent, beneficial to the national team in future.
However, with BCCI diktat on not allowing its current players to play in any other league, Indian presence in auction is restricted to retired veteran Robin Uthappa.
“I have said from the start that I respect the BCCI decision. It is their prerogative to prioritise cricket in their country. We have always worked closely with the BCCI and had open communication and if it (rule) changes, we will be perfectly placed to attract Indian talent and it does benefit us,” Smith added.
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