TELFORD VICE in London
IT took a throwaway line from Brendon McCullum to strip T20 cricket’s newest emperors of their clothes on Monday.
“All of us are, sort of, unashamed T20 mercenaries these days,” the former New Zealand captain said with a guilty smile as he stood on stage with some of the international players who will appear in Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) inaugural Global T20 tournament this summer.
The event was launched at a posh London hotel, where players, owners, administrators and media mingled and queued for selfies over lunch.
McCullum was flanked by England’s Kevin Pietersen, and West Indians Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo — all key figures in the format’s boom in cookie cutter tournaments around the world.
But they are also emblematic of T20 tournaments’ growing challenge to set themselves apart from each other.
Too often the same players pop up in the colours of hastily invented teams in leagues on which the branding paint is still wet.
So it comes as no surprise that the four stars above will be joined by West Indian Chris Gayle, Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga, and Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy of England.
Even Roy, the least known in the group, has played in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Big Bash League, the Bangladesh Premier League and the Pakistan Super League.
Durban-born Roy, who has 73 first-class caps for Surrey and has played 46 one-day internationals for England, has featured in 139 T20 games.
The names of the rest of the players involved will be made known at the draft on August 19, when the highest bidders will have first pick of the available talent.
CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said interest had been received from around 400 players, “160-odd” from outside the country.
They will be whittled down to the 136 places spread across the eight franchises.
Whoever those players are, they won’t be as big as Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, who was announced as the owner of the Cape Town franchise.
“We look forward to your love and support,” he told Capetonians in a video message.
Khan already owns the Kolkata Knight Riders of the IPL, and his new venture was promptly dubbed the Cape Town Knight Riders. But organisers said team names had yet to be confirmed.
The other owners were businessmen from India, Pakistan, Dubai, Hong Kong and South Africa — Osman Osman and Mustaq Brey.
Franchises will also be based in Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Benoni, Durban, Stellenbosch and Johannesburg.
The South African players attached to those teams are, respectively, Imran Tahir, David Miller, AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada.
Potchefstroom, East London and Kimberley were also considered as venues.
The tournament will start in November and culminate in the final on December 16.