PICTURE: 123RF/WAVEBREAK MEDIA LTD
PICTURE: 123RF/WAVEBREAK MEDIA LTD

The tournament formerly known as the T20 Global League (T20GL) hit rock bottom — again — this week when SuperSport pulled out of its equity deal with Cricket SA.

That promises to either derail the yet-to-launch competition for the second consecutive year or condemn it to a significantly more modest version of what was originally planned.

"SuperSport [on Tuesday] announced that it will not be pursuing a proposed shareholding agreement with Cricket SA for its domestic T20 tournament‚" the broadcaster said.

This would seem to fly in the face of earlier pronouncements by Cricket SA‚ which said on July 16: "Cricket SA has in writing thanked all prospective buyers for their interest in the league and have also communicated their decision in selecting the SuperSport equity model."

The next day‚ in his first media conference as Cricket SA CEO‚ Thabang Moroe said: "We reached finality in terms of the equity deal with SuperSport."

All of which was undone‚ publicly at least‚ on Tuesday‚ when SuperSport’s statement quoted its CEO‚ Gideon Khobane‚ as saying: "We reached an in-principle agreement with Cricket SA regarding co-ownership of this event in June.

"Since then‚ the parties have been engaged in amicable talks regarding the details of the proposed relationship.

"We have used our best endeavours to reach consensus with Cricket SA around that shareholding model but this has unfortunately not happened."

Considering the level of public interest in the venture and the drama that has gone before‚ the line added to Khobane’s statement sounded throwaway: "The discussions on the in-principle shareholding agreement terminated on July 23 2018.

"We have therefore decided to discontinue negotiations about shareholding. We are‚ however‚ engaged in constructive discussions with Cricket SA regarding the broadcast of the event," he said.

It is understood that Cricket SA plans to go it alone without partners and that the first ball in a tournament that is starting to resemble the maiden voyage of the Titanic will be bowled in November. And that even as several of the spurned T20GL franchise owners are threatening legal action to secure a piece of what looks suspiciously like pie in the sky.

The field has been reduced from eight to six teams‚ another climbdown from the extravaganza that was promised when Cricket SA launched the event in a posh London hotel on June 19 2017 presided over by then CEO Haroon Lorgat.

On September 28 Lorgat lost his job and on October 10 2017 Cricket SA postponed the T20GL in a move blamed on Cricket SA’s projection that it would lose $25m — or more than half its cash reserves — in the first year.

Less than a year later the competition‚ if it ever happens‚ seems certain to be more a clone of Cricket SA’s existing franchise T20 offering than the glittering product advertised all those eventful months ago in London.

TimesLIVE

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