ICC finally provides clarity over status of Africa Games T20 matches

Reeza Hendricks and the rest of the Lions' top order will face a stern test against the high-flying Warriors in the CSA T20 Challenge at the Wanderers on Wednesday night.
Reeza Hendricks and the rest of the Lions' top order will face a stern test against the high-flying Warriors in the CSA T20 Challenge at the Wanderers on Wednesday night.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

After weeks of confusion, the International Cricket Council (ICC) finally confirmed on Monday night that matches involving both the South African men’s and women’s teams at the Africa Games in Ghana did not hold international status. 

In its brief statement, the ICC added: “All other matches played between the teams participating at the men’s and women’s events were T20 Internationals.” 

The ICC offered no reason for the clarification, though it is understood Cricket South Africa (CSA) had demanded an explanation after it had sent a “university” team to the men’s tournament. The women’s side was tagged as “emerging”, but did contain Faye Tunnecliffe and Annerie Dercksen, who have played senior international cricket for the Proteas; and Karabo Meso, 16, who has just been selected for the national women’s team’s series against Sri Lanka. 

The men’s team had no international experience, but was led by George van Heerden, who captained the South Africa under-19 team at the 2022 junior World Cup in the Caribbean.

The SA Emerging women’s team finished with a silver medal, while the men’s university side lost twice in the group stages and missed out on the semis.

The status of the matches were in question because the majority of them were full internationals and thus allowed teams to earn crucial ranking points, which, in the case of the men, would determine possible qualification for the 2026 T20 World Cup.

South Africa was unable to send a full senior team given the unavailability of players either because of the Indian Premier League (IPL) or for the most part the domestic T20 Challenge which is crucial for the provincial unions, especially those looking to hold onto Division 1 status and those who are seeking promotion from Division 2. 

There had been anger in some circles, particularly among a few of the rival teams South Africa faced in Ghana, where the competition was made up of eight sides each. One coach, who refused to be named, accused CSA of demanding that the matches be downgraded only after the South African team had lost its second match to Kenya. The SA side were also beaten by Uganda.

Neither CSA nor the ICC made it clear why there was confusion about the status of the competitions, and thus where the blame should lie. 

The men’s event was won by Namibia, who beat the Zimbabwe Emerging team in the gold medal match. The women’s competition was won by Zimbabwe, who beat South Africa in a super over in the final. 

* Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape Warriors will face the biggest examination of their dominance of the CSA T20 Challenge at the Wanderers on Wednesday when they take on the Central Gauteng Lions. 

The Warriors, led by Matthew Breetzke, have won all six of their matches and come to the Bullring at the halfway stage of the competition seeking to put one over the team that trails them in second place. 

Though other teams have struggled with the balance of their respective playing XIs because of the presence of their international stars, the Warriors had no such issues. Tristan Stubbs, Marco Jansen and Anrich Nortjé all played three matches for the Warriors before heading off to the IPL, but neither their presence nor their departure seems to have upset the Gqeberha outfit’s rhythm. 

Instead, consistency from openers Breetzke and Jiveshan Pillay and solid contributions from the middle order have given them an edge with the bat, while Siya Simetu, their left-arm spinner, is the competition’s leading wicket-taker with 12 victims. 

The Lions, meanwhile, despite their position on the log, are a team in need of consistency and given the quality of the players in their line-up, a bigger contribution from their top order. Despite the presence of four Proteas batters in their top order, the Lions have scored only three half-centuries.



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