Former South African captain Graeme Smith has weighed in on the ongoing debate surrounding the prioritization of SA20 (a franchise-based T20 tournament) over Test cricket in South Africa. Smith’s remarks come as South Africa prepares to send a second-string team to New Zealand for a Test series due to the scheduling overlap with SA20.
Smith defends the importance of SA20 in South Africa’s cricketing calendar, acknowledging its commercial significance and its role in the future of the sport in the country. He points out that SA20 lasts only four weeks a year, leaving plenty of room for players to participate in Test matches during the rest of the year. Smith stated, “SA20 is (for) four weeks a year which we operate on and obviously, one or two challenges happen and that’s not ideal. That should get better and better every season. South African cricket has made a commitment that SA20 is a big part of its future and gives it the best chance to succeed. I believe it’s just four weeks a year and there would be a lot of chance to play Test cricket.”
Despite acknowledging challenges, Smith believes that SA20 is a vital component of South African cricket’s future success. He added, “One or two challenges happen and that’s not ideal. That should get better and better every season. South African cricket has made a commitment that SA20 is a big part of its future and gives it the best chance to succeed.”
In addition to his comments on SA20, Smith also shares his concerns about the future of ODI cricket. He highlights issues such as slow game patches and decreased spectator interest, suggesting that ODI cricket may face challenges in maintaining its relevance. Smith predicts a reduction in the number of ODI matches between World Cups, with players focusing more on Test cricket and T20s. Smith said, “There are two more World Cups that have been sold to broadcasters and one in SA in 2027 and 2031 is back in India. Even in between the cycle, ODI cricket is going to find itself in challenging space. One format that is falling is the category where people are less interested and patches of game which are going to be slow. Test cricket is always going to be enthralling and we know how much T20 they enjoy and the success it has commercially gained. So, I believe between World Cups, you will see ODIs getting lesser and lesser. That’s my feeling.”
Smith’s remarks shed light on the balancing act faced by cricket administrators in managing the various formats of the game, considering both their commercial viability and their traditional appeal.