In 15 years of its existence, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has emerged as the most prominent T20 league in the world. With T20 leagues proliferating around the world, all new entrants want to emulate IPL and become as successful in their region.
That is what upcoming South Africa's domestic Twenty20 league aspires for -- become the biggest league outside India. With just over a month left for the start of the inaugural edition of SA20, commissioner Graeme Smith promised Indian fans an action-filled, world-class league.
"The goal of SA20 is to get South Africa cricket back to the place we all know it belongs - competing with India, competing with the likes of England and Australia and keeping the international game strong," said SA20 Commissioner Graeme Smith at an event with Viacom18 Sports in Mumbai.
In November, Viacom18 and SA20 announced a partnership to exclusively broadcast and stream South Africa's recently-launched premier T20 league in India. Smith added, "We have that opportunity now through the partners we have been able to attract -- the six teams, we are going to put sixty to eighty of South African players on the map and bring that fandom to India and the new heroes will come to the IPL and play for South Africa all around the world - that's our goal.
We want to build something vibrant and being able to build the biggest league outside India is something that we would really love to achieve." The six teams in SA20 -- Durban's Super Giants, Joburg Super Kings, MI Cape Town, Paarl Royals, Pretoria Capitals, and Sunrisers Eastern Cape -- are owned by IPL franchise owners.
The popularity of South African players with Indian fans coupled with the pedigree of the team owners gives SA20 a robust platform to build one of the top international T20 leagues globally. "SA20 is primed to become one of the most popular T20 leagues in the world," said Viacom18 Sports CEO Anil Jayaraj at an event celebrating the partnership.
"At prime-time in India, the cricket-loving audience will watch South Africa's most revered players along with global superstars and our presentation will match the energy and excitement that will come with it."
The league features teams playing each other twice in a round-robin stage before the semis and final played over four weeks. MI Cape Town and neighbours Paarl Royals kickstart the tournament at Newlands on January 10.
The opening game will be followed by Durban's Super Giants hosting the Joburg Super Kings at Kingsmead on January 11. The SA20 will see international superstars like Quinton de Kock, Faf Du Plessis, Kagiso Rabada, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Rashid Khan, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Liam Livingstone, Maheesh Theekshana, Jason Holder in action.