India, England And Australia Way Ahead of Everybody Else, Don’t Think That’s Good For Game: Graeme Smith

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith feels that South Africa needed a product of its own to revive cricket in the country and the new SA20 league has all the potential to do that. In the past few years, the quality in South African cricket has dipped a bit as they failed to enter the knockout stages of the last five white-ball ICC tournaments – 2016 T20 World Cup, 2017 Champions Trophy, 2019 ODI World Cup, 2021 T20 World Cup and 2022 T20 World Cup.

The emergence of T20 leagues in other cricketing nations has put them ahead of South Africa as they failed to ideal replacements for some of their legendary players like AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla.

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India, Australia and England have become cricketing powerhouses in recent times from a commercial point of view. The rise of the Indian Premier League has almost put BCCI at the head of the table with the amount of money they generate through the T20 tournament.

Smith, SA20 League commissioner, suggested that the idea of the league took place when South Africa realised that they needed a product of its own as they can’t fully rely on ICC for the grants.

“South Africa needed to develop a product that it could make it’s own. I think commercially it needs to be viable, so South Africa think it needs the product of its own and not be reliant on ICC grants or all these bilateral challenges that are challenging the marketplace,” Smith told CricketNext during an interaction With K Srinivas Rao and Shivani Gupta.

Smith, who led South Africa to several memorable victories in the past, admitted that India, England and Australia are way ahead at the moment and now it’s time for the Proteas to bounce back.

“South Africa has kind of just moved off the radar as a real powerhouse cricketing nation. The Top three in India, England, and Australia are way ahead of everybody else, and I don’t think that’s good for the game. So I think also with the fast-changing pace of the world with the T20 Cricket, South Africa couldn’t afford to be left behind anymore,” he added.

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From cricket’s perspective, Smith feels that the new franchise league tournament will help South Africa find new talent who can be developed and then pushed to the big stage.

“I think we’ve now got a product that can be built into the future both commercially and from a cricket perspective. I think from a cricket perspective, I truly believe in South Africa that SA20 will bring new hope to a lot of cricketers, to a lot of the youngsters looking at the game now and that is something that we really wanna do. We wanna put 50 to 80 cricketers every year on the map. Develop more talent and they can go into the international game and hopefully keeps South Africa strong. Commercial is a very important part of the project, but from a cricket perspective, we need to revive cricket in South Africa. I truly believe SA20 is gonna do that,” he added.

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