Picture: REUTERS/Jason Reed
Picture: REUTERS/Jason Reed

With just eight days before the first ball of the England tour is bowled at Newlands next week‚ the cash-strapped SABC still has no contract in place with embattled Cricket SA to broadcast the six-match limited overs series.

After almost a year of inactivity since Covid-19 halted sporting activities in the country in March‚ millions of cricket-starved fans could be left unable to watch the Proteas on their screens because Cricket SA executives are still scrambling to secure a contract with the free-to-air public broadcaster.

Englandarrived on Monday and will play three Twenty20 Internationals and three ODIs behind closed gates  in a biosecure environment at Newlands in Cape Town and Boland Park in Paarl.

SABC acting spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo did not respond to questions e-mailed on Monday, but Cricket SA acting CEO Kugandrie Govender confirmed on Tuesday that there was still no contract in place.

Cricket SA and the SABC said in October  that negotiations were at an advanced stage but Govender said on Tuesday the discussions with the public broadcaster have hit a snag.

“The contract announcement is imminent [but] there are a few issues pending finalisation‚” Govender said.

Govender said Cricket SA was hopeful the SABC would broadcast all six matches live.

“It is planned that way‚ yes,” she said.

The SABC’s contract with Cricket SA ended at the end of last season and circumstances around what led to a situation where the contract expired without another one being put in place are not clear.

Four matches will be played at Newlands with the other two games set for Boland Park in Paarl.

The England team is scheduled to play a 50-over intra-squad practice match at Newlands on Saturday followed by two Twenty intra-squad sessions at Boland Park three days later on Monday before the tour official starts.

With the first ball expected to be sent down at Newlands on Friday November 27‚ millions of cricket-mad households who do not have pay-TV channel SuperSport‚ which holds broadcast rights for domestic and international cricket‚ could be left in the lurch.

SuperSport is the rights holder‚ but Cricket SA and the SABC have a government obligation to ensure that the national team is broadcast live to the broader majority who rely on the free-to-air public broadcaster.

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