EXCLUSIVE: Host of England stars to enjoy South Africa’s T20 franchise… with Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy and Adil Rashid among 50 players up for grabs in new tournament
- Former South African captain Graeme Smith is commissioner of the new SA20 league
- More than 50 English players will be involved in the new franchise
- Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali are among the league’s pre-signed England players
- Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy, Tymal Mills and Adil Rashid will be sold on Monday
Cricket will today take another big step on the road to the T20 franchise when more than 50 England players will be auctioned for a new tournament in South Africa – Graeme Smith hoping he will become second on the world stage after the ‘IPL.
Smith, who captained South Africa to a world record 108 Tests and is commissioner of the new SA20 league, insisted the competition would provide his country’s sport with a financial lifeline.
And he warned that domestic leagues around the world will only go from strength to strength, at a time when many fear for the future of the international game.
Graeme Smith hopes the new SA20 league will become the second biggest in the world
Five of the 22 pre-signed players in the competition are English, with Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone expected to earn nearly £450,000; Sam Curran, Reece Topley and Moeen Ali form the quintet.
Four others – Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy, Tymal Mills and Adil Rashid – are part of a group of eight top players for sale in Cape Town to the six franchises, all of which are funded by companies that own teams in the IPL . These four will each pick up at least £85,000.
A total of 318 cricketers from 13 nationalities – but none from India – are hoping to make it into the six 17-man squads.
Moeen Ali is among five England players who have been pre-signed to SA20 league clubs
“It’s very important for a nation like South Africa to own something that commercially could be significant,” Smith told Sportsmail. “Cricket in South Africa has lost some of its gravity.
“What world cricket doesn’t need is South Africa to back down. To retain that strength, there had to be something that South African cricket had that it could develop. Hopefully it will benefit us like the IPL has benefited Indian cricket.
When asked if he thinks SA20 – to be held in January and February, clashing with Australia’s Big Bash League and another new T20 tournament in the United Arab Emirates – could eclipse all rivals except of the IPL, he replied: “It’s one of our beliefs, that we can position it that way.
The cash-strapped South African board have been criticized for prioritizing the tournament over international play, with their ODI side sacrificing a three-game series in Australia to ensure the availability of top talent for the SA20 .
Eoin Morgan is among 50 England players available in Monday’s bidding phase
But Smith said Australia had not reciprocated attempts to reschedule the ODIs and suggested it was unfair that his country routinely misses much of its summer at home, when Aussies consider their testing Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve in Melbourne and Sydney. as motionless feasts.
The inaugural SA20 is set to coincide with England’s delayed three-game ODI series in South Africa early next year, although Smith said every effort would be made to avoid a direct clash.
But he added cricket administrators need to find a way to allow T20 leagues and international play to coexist, saying: “Does cricket become more like a model of football, where it becomes national, with a period for international cricket and events like the World Cups?
He also downplayed concerns about the influx of private capital, with SA20 effectively becoming a satellite event owned by the IPL and broadcast to a large Indian audience.
“These (IPL) brands are going from strength to strength,” he said. “I was really impressed with their care for the game. They don’t come to South Africa in a good mood. They are there, they are investing and they want cricket to succeed.
Another name that will feature in the SA20 is Adil Rashid, currently serving in England in Pakistan.