Thursday, April 18, 2024

SA20 League: Smith reflects on Betway SA20 Season 2 success

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Photo Credit: SA20 League

League Commissioner, Graeme Smith, believes Betway SA20 has confirmed its status as “a very strong league” after a successful Season 2.

The second edition of Betway SA20 culminated last weekend before a sold-out Newlands crowd with the Sunrisers Eastern Cape defending their title with a convincing victory over Durban’s Super Giants.

The tournament was extended to 34 matches in Season 2 with an extra playoff match added to the calendar.

Smith was particularly pleased that the competition not only matched the initial hype of Season 1, but actually improved and delivered an even better product in 2024.

He was certainly impressed with the new records set this past season, especially on the batting front where MI Cape Town’s Ryan Rickelton broke the 500-run barrier for the first time.

Equally, three further batters passed 400 runs in comparison to the Season 1 leading run-scorer Jos Buttler’s 391.

There were also three five-wicket hauls compared to just the single one of the previous season.

Smith believes this made for enthralling viewing both inside the six stadiums and on television.

“The cricket was outstanding to watch. All the cricket stats improved dramatically,” he said.

“The numbers are up commercially, broadcast viewership numbers are up.

“Building into the season a lot of people were saying, ‘Were you a one-hit wonder?’. No, we’re not, we’ve established ourselves that this is a very strong league now.”

The League Commissioner was particularly pleased with the development of the local players as he believes this will always remain the core strength of the Betway SA20.

“We are a majority-based South African league. The majority of our players in playing XIs are South African.

“We’ve seen the South African players get better. There’s a stronger crop of players now available for selection for the Proteas,” Smith said.

“We are also blessed to be able to attract top international talent who want to play here.

“When we were building SA20, there was no confidence in South Africa cricket that we were able to pull it off at this level.

“But if we look at what we’ve created in two years – it’s amazing!

“We’ve gone from a place where international talent hasn’t backed our league, to where they want to be a part of it,” he added.

Smith admitted that the Season 2 fixture clash with the Proteas Test tour to New Zealand was “disappointing” and that dialogue has already begun with Cricket SA to avoid it for Season 3.

“We’ve been upfront that the January-February window for us is where cricket South Africa identified us, from a summer perspective, the best place to be but you’ve always got to reflect and see what the challenges are in, in the world game,” he said.

“It should never have happened with the conflicts. But we will work together with Cricket South Africa to make sure that that doesn’t happen again.”

Smith also wanted to pay tribute to the South African public that have for successive seasons voted with their feet by streaming through the turnstiles at all six venues around the country.

“I think the thing that I will always be grateful for is the support from the public,” Smith said.

“The people who turn on their televisions and come to the stadiums, the vibrancy of the league. The feedback we have been receiving has been extremely positive.”

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