Picture: 123RF/RICHARD THOMAS
Picture: 123RF/RICHARD THOMAS

Cricket SA’s four-day franchise series will feature a final for the first time since the 2005/2006 season.

However‚ the number of league matches the teams will play has been cut from 10 to seven in the red-ball tournament as has the Momentum 1-Day Cup in what looks like a cost-cutting measure.

In one of the changes Cricket SA set for the domestic competition‚ the six franchises will remain‚ but they will be split into two groups.

Teams will play each other twice while they will play a single round of matches against the three teams in the other group.

The teams will have played seven games each and the group winners will play in an eighth game‚ which will be the final.

The same is applicable to the Momentum 1-Day Cup where the teams will be split into two groups of three with cross pool games of one match each.

The two group winners will then meet in the final.

The domestic limited overs competition‚ like the Four-Day Franchise Series‚ has seen teams play each other twice on a home and away basis.

While the winner of the four-day competition has been the team with the most points at the end of the 10-round tournament‚ the limited overs team has seen the top four teams take part in the play-offs.

At one time‚ the top team qualified directly for the final while the second and third-placed teams played an eliminator to face the top placed team.

The franchise cricket system had two finals in the 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 seasons between the Dolphins and the Knights (then Eagles) and the Dolphins and the Titans.

Both games were high-scoring draws that were played late in the season.

Before the franchise system‚ the 11-team affiliate system that played in the SuperSport Series had a final from the 1998/1999 to the 2003/2004 season.

The changes were instituted by a domestic cricket review committee headed by former Proteas wicketkeeper and International Cricket Council CEO David Richardson.

The primary objectives were to:

• Preserve the domestic cricket status quo for the 2020/2021 season

• Reduce competition costs;

• Provide meaningful and commercially attractive content for franchises and provinces;

• Promote fan engagement and loyalty;

• Create a clear pathway and boost to feeder structures (clubs and universities).

Cricket SA’s acting CEO, Jacques Faul, said the announcement had to be made in time so teams could sort out contractual issues.

The lower tier semiprofessional section that also has first-class and List A status will have 15 teams divided into two groups of eight and seven teams each with the winners meeting in the final.

Limpopo and Mpumalanga will join the tournament‚ but matches involving them won’t have List A and first-class status but will count for log points.

There will also be a new 40-over knockout competition involving the 15 provinces plus SA under-19 that will take place on weekends when franchise and school players will be available for their respective teams.