Graeme Smith T20

Former South Africa captain and director of cricket Graeme Smith will head up the new T20 league. Photo: Backpagepix

Smith: Why India’s national stars won’t be part of new T20 league

League Commissioner Graeme Smith has revealed why contracted Indian players won’t be involved in South Africa’s new T20 league.

Graeme Smith T20

Former South Africa captain and director of cricket Graeme Smith will head up the new T20 league. Photo: Backpagepix

It’s already been confirmed that over 30 marquee international players will be involved in the new T20 league in South Africa.

The six franchises of the inaugural T20 League in South Africa are able to sign players from a world-class pool made up of some of the best local and international cricketers, it was confirmed earlier this month.


Over 30 marquee international players have been signed, with the numbers set to increase as players enter the auction taking place in the next few weeks. This is in addition to all contracted Proteas and domestic players who have committed to the League.

However, Graeme Smith has revealed that because the franchise owners of the new tournament also own IPL teams, contracted Indian stars are not expected to be released.

“We have a great relationship with the BCCI and they have supported us as we build our league. At the moment contracted Indian players are not released to participate in foreign leagues outside the IPL,” Smith said, as quoted by TimesLive.

“We want to make it a competitive league, and to have a competitive league you need to have the players. We have worked hard to sign some global T20 superstars and coupled with our world-class SA players, I have no doubt we will be able to showcase competitive and entertaining cricket.

“We have a rich player base that we are committed to investing in and nurturing.”

The six franchises will have a squad of 17 players, and will be able to pre-sign up to five players made up of three international players, one Proteas player and one uncapped South African player prior to the auction.

“This is an important milestone for the League,” Smith commented. “Having world-class South African players playing with some of best cricketers around the world makes for some outstanding cricket. I’m mostly excited for the young and upcoming talent in our cricket pipeline. They will get to rub shoulders with some experienced and talented players which will no doubt inspire and help them to raise their own game.

“The League’s priority is to help strengthen our domestic cricket structures while putting on an exciting and entertaining cricketing showpiece,” Smith continued. “Our player regulations have been thoughtfully drafted in consultation with the franchises and everyone is ready to get going. We’re looking forward to seeing how the teams match up and how the franchises will build their squads.” 

Players from across a host of countries have expressed their interest to be a part of the League and are currently being signed up for the 2023 season and beyond.

“We are delighted with the interest from the player community and are onboarding players with the support from the cricket boards. I’m looking forward to welcoming players from all regions across the cricketing world,” Smith ended.

Meanwhile, the open bid process for the T20 franchises, managed by Deloitte Corporate Finance, attracted over 29 entities who expressed interest in owning a T20 franchise worldwide. Over 10 venues were made available for interested bidders to own a franchise and all 10 of them received expressions of interest.


The six successful bidders who will be part of this significant chapter of South African cricket are:

 Venue, CitySuccessful Bidder
 Newlands, Cape TownReliance Industries Limited, owners of Mumbai Indians
 Kingsmead, DurbanRPSG Sports Private Limited, owners of Lucknow Super Giants
 St George’s Park, Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth)Sun TV Network Limited, owners of Sunrisers Hyderabad
 Wanderers, JohannesburgChennai Super Kings Cricket Limited, owners of Chennai Super Kings
 Boland Park, PaarlRoyals Sports Group, owners of Rajasthan Royals
 SuperSport Park, PretoriaJSW Sports, co-owners of Delhi Capitals

All six successful bidders have extensive experience in operating franchises across multiple sports and deep cricketing expertise through their ownership in the world’s leading T20 tournament, the Indian Premier League.


The new T20 competition will take place early next year

Commenting on the selection process, Graeme Smith said:

“We are thrilled to welcome our new franchise owners to the South African League taking place in January and February 2023. This is truly an exciting time for South African cricket; the overwhelming interest shows that the country remains valued in the global cricketing eco-system.

“A robust bidding process was followed to select the final six owners, the decision was informed by a scorecard based on various criteria to ensure the utmost professionalism, independence, and objectivity to the process. I would like to thank Deloitte as our advisors for doing a thoroughly professional job in helping South African cricket find partners who add substantial value to our game.

“The strong sports background of the respective owners and the global brands they manage ensures that South African cricket and the broader industry will benefit from their expertise and resources, as they bring stability and experience to the League.”

Fans will have the opportunity to watch word class cricketers, catch a glimpse of the next generation and experience the action first-hand when the festival takes off early next year.

“We have already contracted a number of leading international players who will be announced shortly. Combined with our strong South African player base, fans and stakeholders can be assured that the new League will showcase exciting talent and skill,” Smith concluded.