The bidding process for franchises of the new Cricket SA two-tier 15-team domestic structure for next season is under way.

But the details around player contracts and the criteria used to determine who will play in the top-flight division and the lower one are still sketchy.

Cricket SA announced recently that it has dismantled the six-team, first-class system and the new structure will see teams split 8-7 into Division 1 and Division 2 with automatic promotion and relegation to be implemented.

Director of cricket Graeme Smith confirmed the bidding process and said he is hopeful all the processes for the new structure will be completed in time to be implemented in the new season.

“I hope I am not going to talk out of turn but I have played a role in that. There are obviously other team members running with some of the details of how that looks but the bidding process for those teams is under way currently‚” said Smith. “So there will be a rollout over the next few months for the bidding process‚ to contracting and the set-up.

“If we meet all our operational targets then I don’t see why we won’t have a new domestic playing structure next season.”

It is understood the current six established franchisees (the Lions‚ Titans‚ Cobras‚ Dolphins‚ Warriors and Knights) are expected to play in the top division‚ leaving two more Division 1 spots up for grabs.

Smith lacked details but admitted the process is a “stressful” one for Cricket SA as not all the unions will be content to start the new structure in the lower Division 2‚ leaving them to scramble their way up to Division 1 through a promotion process.

“Cricket SA has defined the criteria upfront and that is why there is a bidding process and all the franchises will have to meet those criteria. Cricket SA had done it successfully before in the MSL [Mzansi Super League]‚” said the former captain.

“I’m sure there will some disappointments at the end of this process for certain unions.

“I think everyone wants to be in the top eight to start with but I know the criteria and the team has worked extremely hard in terms of being thorough on what is required from a top flight franchise and the bidding process is under way.”

Cricket SA said in January that the 8-7 divisional split will be determined by a bid process in which each union will be evaluated based on its performance‚ both current and historical‚ as well as the union’s strategic plan for running and sustaining a professional team.

The calendar for Division 1 will be similar to the current system where the eight teams will play four-day‚ one-day and T20 cricket all in a single round under the new structure.

The same eight teams will also compete in a domestic T20 knockout tournament with the seven teams from Division 2‚ whose season will comprise of a four-day and one-day competition.

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