“The players are disappointed that the ODIs in Australia will not happen but they understood the reasons,” Pholetsi Moseki, CSA’s chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo. “A lot of people are investing a lot of money in the T20 league, and we have to give it the best chance of success.”
“We still want bilateral cricket to be supreme but the reality for countries like us is that you only make money when you play India. In the pre-Covid year, in 2019, we hosted England and Australia and we still made a loss. So we have to look at other options”
In the meeting, it was explained to the players that CSA has identified setting up the T20 league as a “top priority”, according to Lawson Naidoo, CSA’s board chair. And that the tournament, which aims to be the second-biggest in the world after the IPL, needs everyone’s buy-in when it launches in January 2023. “We need all our top players available to satisfy team owners and guarantee the integrity of the league,” Naidoo told ESPNcricinfo.
Naidoo further said CSA had presented Cricket Australia with “various options” to play the matches at a different time.
“Given our situation on the points table, we knew it would be a tough ask to qualify,” Naidoo said. “We would have liked the opportunity to automatically qualify but if we have to go to the qualifiers, that’s what we have to do. The players know what’s at stake. A World Cup is the pinnacle of a career.”
World Cup participation is also financially lucrative and missing out on the tournament is not a scenario CSA wants to contemplate. “That will be a disaster,” Moseki said. “We are backing ourselves in qualification.”
Effectively, that increases the pressure on South Africa’s players to ensure they do not miss out on the 2023 World Cup, but the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) said it sympathised with CSA’s position and hoped this would shine a light on broader issues in the game. “We recognise the predicament CSA finds themselves in. The situation is not ideal. This should highlight the crisis facing world cricket at the moment as more leagues emerge,” Andrew Breetzke, SACA’s CEO told ESPNcricinfo.
“The deadline for bids for teams is today [July 13],” Naidoo said. “We have appointed Deloitte [the auditing firm] to run an independent selection process and we hope to announce the six teams by the end of the month.”
South Africa are set to play India, Australia, England and Pakistan in Tests at home in the next cycle but discussions on the number and format of white-ball matches are ongoing.
“Everyone is trying to get a window for their league and we are finding we have to squeeze bilateral cricket in,” Moseki said. “We still want bilateral cricket to be supreme but the reality for countries like us is that you only make money when you play India. In the pre-Covid year, in 2019, we hosted England and Australia and we still make a loss. So we have to look at other options.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent