The T20 Challenge is not nearly as big a deal as the aborted T20 Global League it will replace, but for the sponsors it’s "perfect".
Ram‚ the courier company that returned as the T20 Challenge’s title backer on Tuesday having withdrawn its support in September 2016, focuses its business on SA.
So its interest in remaining a sponsor waned when it learnt that the T20 Global League‚ which was to have started on November 3 and would have overshadowed the T20 Challenge‚ would be targeted at a foreign audience. It would also have been more expensive.
"We were told the new format would be an international event and would warrant more sponsorship and more money and we couldn’t afford it‚" said David Lazarus‚ Ram Hand to Hand Couriers’ executive chairman. "As a domestic tournament it’s perfect for us."
A domestic tournament is what the T20 Challenge‚ which starts on Friday‚ will be in the wake of the T20 Global League being halted in its tracks.
In fact, Lazarus will get more bang for his buck this time than in the four other seasons his company put its logo on the tournament because‚ unlike in previous editions‚ the T20 Challenge will feature a full complement of SA’s national players.
When Ram pulled out in 2016 Lazarus was asked whether the company had done so because its name was being dragged — through no fault of its own — through the mud of the match-fixing scandal that afflicted the 2015-16 Challenge.
"The costs just did not warrant the investment‚" Lazarus said at the time.
The issues around the past series were dealt with efficiently by Cricket SA, the Ram chairman said. Seven players — among them Test caps Thami Tsolekile‚ Alviro Petersen and Lonwabo Tsotsobe — were banned for between two and 20 years for involvement, although Cricket SA has said no fixing took place.
A year on‚ Lazarus remains satisfied that the issue was handled properly: "They hired the best legal counsel and sanctions were handed out. I do not wish to be part of anything illegal.
"They have been transparent and I believe it’s a good opportunity to promote the brand."