South Africa: Kirsten Backs Mzansi Super League to Keep Improving

Cape Town — New Durban Heat coach Gary Kirsten believes that if Cricket South Africa (CSA) takes on key learnings year after year, the Mzansi Super League (MSL) can become a financial success.

The former India and Proteas mentor was unveiled as the Heat’s head coach last week, and he will enter the tournament in its second year and with the spotlight firmly on.

CSA, facing hundreds of millions of forecast in losses over the next three years, needs this product to succeed.

It doesn’t matter, Kirsten says, that South Africa is late to the T20 party with the IPL having staged 12 tournaments since 2008 and Australia’s Big Bash heading into its ninth edition at the end of the year.

While the quality of cricket was encouraging in last year’s tournament and while a number of overseas players were secured, the major issues were crowd attendances and the absence of a lucrative broadcast deal.

With SuperSport and CSA unable to agree on terms, the broadcast rights were handed to the cash-strapped SABC and that will be the case once more in 2019.

In Kirsten, however, the tournament has been boosted by securing one of the most respected coaches in world cricket and a man who understands that global T20 circuit better than most.

“I thought the quality of the cricket (last year) was pretty good, but more importantly I got feedback from some of the players and they were really encouraged by the competition, so that’s good news,” Kirsten told Sport24 this week.

“Like every product in its first year there are learnings you can take to make it better, so we would hope it gets better at is goes along.”

The trick, Kirsten said, was identifying the needs of the South African cricket audience as quickly as possible and then shaping the tournament around that.

“T20 cricket is a great product and you obviously need to make it work in your region. That’s what CSA need to continue to learn about and making it a better product year in and year out,” he said.

“Every region requires a slightly different version of the T20 product, I suppose. It’s about understanding what the requirements are of the South African market. It might be the timing of the games, it might be double-headers at grounds … whatever it is, you need to understand the landscape and get the best out of it.

“I think it’s a very important tournament for CSA because it is the one product that you know could potentially earn good income for cricket. Every nation across the world is under threat in terms of the wellbeing of the game, financially.”

The 51-year-old, who played 101 Tests and 185 ODIs for the Proteas, is also backing the fact that the tournament will be available to everyone on free-to-air television.

“I think it’s brilliant making it accessible to everyone to watch and learn about the game,” he said.

“It’s also important to create aspiration. I think every young cricketer or sportsman that has gone on to perform at a high level will probably articulate a story where he watched his heroes play on TV.”

Kirsten has also committed to coaching the Cardiff-based sidee in next year’s The Hundred in England, while he is based in Cape Town and continues to work closely with his coaches at the Gary Kirsten Foundation in Khayelitsha.

The MSL is expected to get underway in November.

Source: Sport24


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Publish date : 2019-08-15 14:19:16

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