Table of Contents
At the start of 2023, a brand new T20 domestic competition hit the schedules. Here’s all you need to know about the SA20 league.
History of SA20
Like all countries, South Africa have been playing T20 cricket since the mid-2000s but, for various reasons, they had been unable to set up a long-running, established domestic league.
Cricket South Africa’s plans began with the T20 Global League, but this idea had to be scrapped due to the lack of a sponsor and a TV broadcast contract. Eventually, the Mzansi Super League did go ahead and this ran for two seasons in 2018 and 2019.
The Covid pandemic paused the Mzansi Super League in 2020 and the competition is now consigned to history.
Through the help of a number of organizations, CSA developed the South Africa T20 League in 2022 with the first edition taking place a year later. One of the backers involved is former Indian Premier League COO Sundar Raman and the IPL would have a huge influence on this competition.
Because of the backing from India, the SA20 has been referred to as a mini Indian Premier League. All six teams have been bought by existing sides in the IPL.
The team names borrow from the established franchises at the IPL, so we have Super Kings, Royals, Capitals and others. The colours are the same in South Africa and India while the badges are another indication as to who is behind the SA20.
Format of South Africa T20 League
Like most domestic T20 competitions around the world, the SA20 starts with a league format which is followed by some knockout rounds. There are six teams involved and, in those initial stages, each team will play each other twice.
Once those round robin matches have been concluded, the best performing sides will progress to the knockout stage. There are no playoffs, qualifiers or eliminators here: It’s just a straight set of semi finals.
In another move reminiscent of the IPL, the SA20 league featured an auction to decide who plays where. Along with the best domestic players from around South Africa, there is a large overseas contingent, some of whom have switched from the Big Bash in order to take part.
The auction for the first SA20 tournament took place in September 2022 and the biggest buy was Tristan Stubbs who went to Sunrisers Eastern Cape for 9.2 million Rand.
Other expensive purchases included Heinrich Klaasen, Donavon Ferreira, Marco Jansen, Wayne Parnell and Tabraiz Shamsi.
SA20 Teams (Captains and Best Players)
Durban’s Super Giants, Durban
There are six teams taking part in the inaugural edition of the SA20 and I’ll work through them in alphabetical order. Durban’s Super Giants kick things off and they were skippered in 2023 by Quinton de Kock.
Under coach Lance Klusener, the squad contains top class South African internationals including Simon Harmer, Heinrich Klaasen and Dwaine Pretorious. Overseas players for 2023 include Reece Topley and the West Indians Jason Holder, Kyle Mayers, Johnson Charles and Keemo Paul.
Joburg Super Kings, Johannesburg
Captain Faf Du Plessis brings a wealth of experience to this Joburg side which is coached by regular CSK man Stephen Fleming. There is a mix of youth and experience in the squad but, without too many current SA internationals, the Joburg Super Kings may have to rely heavily on their overseas players.
There’s a strong English contingent here that includes Moeen Ali, Harry Brook, George Garton and Lewis Gregory.
MI Cape Town, Cape Town
Named after the Mumbai Indians, MI Cape Town field the only overseas captain in the SA20 2023. Afghanistan leg spinner Rashid Khan is in charge of a team that is coached by Simon Katich.
Other foreign imports for the first season include Sam Curran, Olly Stone and Jofra Archer as the team looks to compete in the bowling department. The attack will be spearheaded by Kagiso Rabada while Dewald Brevis, Rassie van der Dussen, Beuran Hendricks and Ryan Rickelton help to form an impressive domestic line up.
Paarl Royals, Paarl
The power hitting left handed batter David Miller leads the Paarl Royals into battle. He is in charge of a side coached by his old South African team mate JP Duminy and containing familiar names such as Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dane Vilas.
The big hitting English pairing of Jason Roy and Jos Buttler slot in at the top of the order, while other overseas names include Obed McCoy and Eoin Morgan.
Pretoria Capitals, Pretoria
It’s one of three capital cities in South Africa, but it’s Pretoria who have earned the right to adopt the name which is used by Delhi in India. The team were led in 2023 by Wayne Parnell who helps out in a potent pace attack which includes Anrich Nortje and Eathan Bosch.
The scheduling of the first SA20 means that a number of top English players are available. Phil Salt and Will Jacks will be expected to get the Pretoria Capitals off to a fast start with the bat, while leg spinner Adil Rashid looks to restrict opposing sides.
Sunrisers Eastern Cape, Gqeberha
The men in orange are the Sunrisers Eastern Cape who are skippered in 2023 by Aiden Markram. Some of the best young South African talent is included in the squad and the captain will rely on the likes of Marco Jansen and Tristan Stubbs.
There are restrictions on how many overseas players can be used at one time, so the selectors will need to choose carefully from Jordan Cox, Mason Crane, Tom Abell, Adam Rossington, James Fuller and Brydon Carse.
I’ve found it particularly interesting to watch the SA 20 at the same time as the Big Bash from Australia. The BBL has been established for longer and it’s produced some quality games, but the crowds have been disappointing for the 2022/23 edition.
In contrast, the admittedly smaller grounds in South Africa have mostly been full and each game has been played in a great, almost joyous atmosphere. While there is a lot of T20 cricket being played right now, the SA20 is a welcome addition to the calendar and it’s hoped that South Africa finally has its established short form tournament.