Smith cagey on who will play in Division 1 in Cricket SA’s new playing structure for next season
The bidding process for franchises of the new Cricket SA (CSA) two-tier 15-team domestic playing structure for next season is underway.
CSA announced earlier this year that it has dismantled the six team first-class system and the new structure will see teams split 8-7 into Division 1 and Division 2, with automatic promotion and relegation to be implemented.
Director of cricket Graeme Smith confirmed the bidding process and said he is hopeful all the processes for the new playing structure will be completed in time to be implemented in the new season.
“I hope I am not going to talk out of turn but I have played a role in that. There are obviously other team members running with some of the details of how that looks, but the bidding process for those teams is currently under way‚” said Smith.
“There will be a rollout over the next few months for the bidding process‚ contracting and the setup.
“If we meet all of our operational targets, I don’t see why we won’t have a new domestic playing structure next season.”
TimesLIVE understands the current six established franchisees [the Lions‚ Titans‚ Cobras‚ Dolphins‚ Warriors and Knights] are expected to play in the top division in one form or the other‚ leaving two more Division 1 spots up for grabs.
Smith lacked details but admitted the process is a “stressful” for CSA as not all the unions will be content to start the new playing structure in the lower Division 2‚ leaving them to scramble their way up to Division 1 through a promotion and relegation process.
“CSA has defined the criteria upfront and that is why there is a bidding process and all the franchises will have to meet those criteria. CSA had done it successfully before in the MSL [Mzansi Super League]‚” said the former captain.
“I’m sure there will some disappointments at the end of this process for certain unions. I think everyone wants to be in the top eight to start with, but I know the criteria and the team has worked extremely hard in terms of being thorough on what is required from a top-flight franchise.
“I think that process is a stressful one for CSA and one we want to get right and are taking very seriously.”
CSA said the 8-7 divisional split will be determined by a bid process in which each union will be evaluated based on its performance‚ both current and historical‚ as well as the union’s strategic plan for running and sustaining a professional team.
The calendar for Division 1 will be similar to the current system, where the eight teams will play four-day‚ one-day and T20 cricket all in a single round under the new structure.
The same eight teams will also compete in a domestic T20 knockout tournament with the seven teams from Division 2‚ whose season will comprise of a four-day and one-day competition.
Asked how the automatic promotion and relegation will work given there are three formats and if the new teams will contract the same number of players‚ Smith said: “I’m not going to get into that today because it is a complicated thing.
“It has been defined, but I think the best thing to do is for CSA to get it right.
“We have worked closely with the SA Cricketers' Association as well on the contracting structure, the moneys and the details around the whole thing.”
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