Port Elizabeth has been confirmed as one of Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) eight T20 Global League venues in a venture that will see the metro rake in an estimated R1-billion over a 10-year period.
The successful cities, team owners and where the marquee Proteas players are to be based were revealed by CSA from London yesterday.
In a massive coup, the world’s number one T20 international bowler Imran Tahir was named as the Port Elizabeth franchise’s star player.
The owner was revealed as the United Arab Emirates’ Channel 2 Group chairman, Ajay Sethi. The Indian-born media mogul’s radio station is also the global partner of the International Cricket Council.
He owns the St Lucia Zouks, who play in the Caribbean Premier League, and initiated the idea of the Pakistan Super League.
He has also been involved in auto export, trade and real estate and has financed Bollywood movies. The franchise has yet to be named. “I’m really excited about PE.
There is a lot of history and I love the stadium there,” Sethi said from London yesterday. “St George’s Park is a 150-year-old venue and the waterfront is just five minutes away.
“The people of Port Elizabeth are very festive and we are looking forward to a good summer and a cricket carnival during this period.
“I’m looking forward to being associated with this town and its people.”
The deal will see St George’s Park host seven home games every year for the next 10 years and will also have an array of international and domestic players on show during the November-December event.
The player draft from more than 400 players, both international and domestic, will take place in August. Members of Eastern Province Cricket’s board and staff, and the media, watched the glitzy unveiling streamed live on CSA’s Facebook page yesterday afternoon.
There was a loud roar of relief and approval when Port Elizabeth was eventually named as the last of the eight venues. “We are absolutely thrilled,” EP Cricket chief executive Mark Williams said.
“We have put in a lot of effort in terms of preparing for the announcement. “It was never a situation where it was a foregone conclusion because it was a tender process.
“But we also believed that St George’s Park had all the skills, capabilities and attraction for investors coming in, having a team here. “The cricketing public is in for a treat.
There are seven home games in a short period of time.” Williams said the next move was to plan further details with Sethi. “It is now important for us to meet the new franchise owner.
“We need to then plan the receiving management infrastructure for the team here.
The team will be based here. “We need to draw up a marketing programme and also find a name for the franchise and recruit the team management. “We will run the stadium with our skilled crew, who have handled 10 IPL games in the past, as well as numerous international cricket matches,” he said.
EP Cricket president Donovan May said: “This is an amazing new concept for cricket in our city and we want to fill the stadium over and over again.
“We need to show the new owners that we can deliver an exciting stadium experience.”
City manager Johann Mettler, who attended the live streaming at St George’s, said he had always believed the city bid would be successful.
The other franchise venues, marquee players and franchise owners are: Durban (Hashim Amla, Fawad Rana), Benoni (Quinton de Kock, Javed Afridi), Pretoria (AB de Villiers, Osman Osman), Stellenbosch-Paarl (Faf du Plessis, Mushtaq Brey), Cape Town (JP Duminy, Shah Rukh Khan), Bloemfontein (David Miller, Sushil Kumar), Johannesburg (Kagiso Rabada, GMR Sports).