SA20 2023: Franchises reflect on inaugural edition; extol conduct of debut season
The year 2023 saw the inaugural edition of SA20 and it was played in South Africa.
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The SA20 franchise owners have praised the inaugural season as a spectacular success story. Six brand new teams, all with Indian Premier League affiliations, were based in Cape Town, Paarl, Gqeberha, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria; bringing together new fans and networks to make an exciting mark on South Africa’s premier T20 League.
The SA20’s aim was though not just to showcase world-class talent on the field, but to also attract an entirely new and diverse audience by merging the cricket with plenty of family-friendly entertainment off the pitch.
“Sportainment” proved immensely popular from when the very first ball was bowled at Newlands, to the final delivery at the Wanderers where the champions, Sunrisers Eastern Cape were crowned. Fans flocked through the turnstiles to support their favourite teams across the six venues, which experienced unprecedented crowds for domestic cricket in South Africa.
Vinod Bisht, CEO of Durban’s Super Giants said: “The inaugural season of the SA20 set the tone for domestic leagues all around the world. Exciting cricket, marquee players, exceptional entertainment and full stadiums all set the tone for a grand spectacle. DSG is very excited for the next season.”
Joburg Super Kings head, Ankit Baldi, is delighted with the support from the local fans: “There were some nerves before the SA20 started but they vanished once the matches started. The quality of cricket and crowds in the stadiums across the competition says it all!” said Baldi.
“What was also striking, and encouraging, was that there is already home-city affiliation among fans. The home support across stadiums, especially at the Wanderers, was fantastic to watch and made a big difference to the cricket. The tournament was also very well organised - it definitely didn't feel like it was the first season! I'm sure it's just the beginning and things will only get better in the upcoming seasons.”
MI Cape Town captured the Newlands Faithful from the opening match of the season, with a sold out Newlands setting the stage for the leading franchise in domestic League cricket in the world.
“The inaugural edition of SA20 was spectacular, the entire country was brimming with support. At Newlands, for our home games, the vibe was extraordinary and it captured the attention of the fans, it has set a benchmark for fan engagement,” an MI Cape Town spokesperson said.
“From the players to the sponsors, the league has been a welcome addition to the South African cricket calendar and everyone including MI Cape Town are looking forward to the next season.”
Paarl Royals lead owner, Manoj Badale, believes the SA20 can only grow and develop further into a major global tournament after the platform laid by its amazing inaugural season.
“First of all, huge congratulations to SA20 and to all of the stakeholders involved for the way the competition was conducted. And secondly, a huge thank you to the fans, who (for me) made the competition. There was much anticipation from all corners of the country, and we are delighted with our new home in Boland Park,” Badale said.
“We loved seeing the passion there and look forward to treating them to another season of exciting cricket. The platform has been created, but sponsors, CSA and local companies are now needed for the tournament to become a ‘first choice’ destination for the best players in an increasingly crowded cricket calendar" he added.