As Cricket South Africa gears up to host the first edition of its T20 Global League, we talked to the mastermind behind it, the board’s CEO Haroon Lorgat. With a wealth of experience behind him, he is more than qualified to respond to our rapid fire round and he demystified some of the issues surrounding it.
When one of only two local owners, Brimstone Investment withdrew from the bidding process for what was then the Stellenbosch Monarchs franchise, the company was quoted as saying it was interested in part ownership only. The CSA chief is clear-cut about the league’s model, saying “CSA prides itself on good governance and being principled. If you were in attendance at our AGM on the 2nd of September, you would have heard the high standards of our corporate governance being complimented by the Deputy Minister of Sport in his address to the meeting. Naturally CSA is disappointed that there are not many South Africans who are team owners but with the well governed process we ran, the ownership of the eight teams boasts the best owners from around the world.”
There were a number of rumours over the summer, namely that big names such as Hashim Amla and Morne Morkel would join English counties as Kolpak players ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union. Haroon Lorgat has a clear cut response to this. “Amongst our other goals, we designed the T20 Global League to be aspirational for South African cricketers and to improve their earning potential, especially those not in the Proteas set-up or on the international scene. We hope the new league will not only provide them with opportunities to display their talents to a global audience and play alongside other international players, but by earning more they will be dissuaded from looking elsewhere.”
The recently concluded Caribbean Premier League lost a bit of its fizz when the Pakistan Cricket Board recalled its players for fitness tests. With as many as nine Pakistani players in the T20 GL, an opening tournament would be dealt a big blow by the exit of the bigger names – a distinct possibility for part of the tournament at least, as Windies chief Dave Cameron last week committed to the probability of his T20 squad touring Pakistan in November. During his tenure as the International Cricket Council chief from 2008-2012, Haroon Lorgat observed many a Pakistan match in the UAE and is familiar with the nuances that are Pakistan cricket. “Pakistani players are amongst the best in the world, as their recent success in the ICC Champions Trophy showed. We have an excellent relationship with the PCB and it is why we allow our players to be available for their events, like the successfully concluded T20 World XI series as well as the Pakistan Super League. Any potential conflicts in playing schedules will be resolved between us.”
Amidst mutterings that the international cricketing calendar is now over-flowing, with the addition of this tournament as well as an English League by 2020, a testament to the strength of the South African League, is Lorgat’s confidence in the timing of the tournament. “The November/December window is during the better part of our traditional cricket season. From our point of view, the timing is perfect as our international home season will start with the Boxing Day Test. South Africa is blessed with good weather and we are lucky not to have a monsoon-type rainy season. Past experience of playing during this time of year proves the weather should not affect the tournament to any great extent.”
With South Africa’s world class cities and its beautiful landscapes second to none, Haroon Lorgat is hopeful the T20 GL will boost tourism. The inclusion of Pakistani players will thus have a positive impact on both the quality of cricket and the economy.