“I know I keep talking about the IPL but you look at the amount of strong cricketers that have come through in the IPL,” Smith said. “Looking at trying to find 15 players, hopefully there’s 25-35 players in the next couple of years at a level where it makes the selectors jobs very, very difficult. Those that are used to playing big games, exposed to big games. Unfortunately South Africa has to deal with these questions all the time until they actually win a tournament.”
South Africa have not won a men’s World Cup in 16 attempts – eight ODI World Cups and eight T20 World Cups. While they have come close in knockout games a number of times, they failed to make the semi-finals in five of the last six ICC white-ball events. In the 2022 T20 World Cup, South Africa lost their last group match to Netherlands and did not progress to the knockouts.
“There’s reasons why you’ve got World Cups in your cabinets,” Boucher said, talking about India. “The reason is big stages, guys playing in finals and semi-finals. The more you play those games the better you get. This [SA20] is going to be on the big stage as well. You’re going to see youngsters. Guys are going to be put in situations they’re not used to and that’s going to be exciting to see who comes through. Then once that happens, our coaches and selectors can check and select the guys who are needed for the big moments and the big events.”
South Africa have won only five of their 16 Super League matches so far, having forfeited three ODIs in Australia to have all their top players available for the start of the SA20 in January.
“I think South Africa’s World Cup qualification was bad because they played bad. I mean, they had a lot of time to control that,” Smith said. “I think that this three-ODI cancellation, I actually feel for Cricket South Africa in many ways, because I know the effort that went in to move those three ODIs to open up a window for the league. The league will have a window free of international cricket in South Africa, like the IPL, for a period every year.
“Australia never travel on Boxing Day or New Year’s. England are never away from home in their summer. It’s incredible that South African cricket still has decided that they’ll earn zero revenues this year because they’re going to Australia for three Test matches. So, I know that they went out of their way with Cricket Australia to find a way to make those three ODIs work, but it just wasn’t practical, and eventually South African cricket had to make a choice … it was going to start its own league and it needed to give it a chance and make a proper statement that it was going to make a success of it.”
South Africa have not played a festive series in Australia since 2008, for the reasons Smith mentioned. Former CSA CEO Gerald Majola negotiated in previous FTPs that South Africa would only tour Australia outside of the Christmas-New Year period to maximise revenue at home. This series was decided in the 2019-2023 FTP, which was drafted in the post-Majola era. Cricket South Africa host only one incoming tour this season, against West Indies, but will launch the SA20 this summer.