Boeta Dippenaar retires from cricket today and, even though his feet may no longer move as assuredly as he would like, his brain remains as sharp as ever and is one of the reasons he is the president of the South African Cricketers’ Association.
Speaking in his personal capacity, Dippenaar told City Press he was concerned by CSA’s plans to include 12 teams in the franchise system instead of the current six. Instead of lifting the overall quality of domestic cricket, Dippenaar says this will weaken the game in South Africa and, as a consequence, weaken the national team.
“The domestic structure is incredibly important for the national team, but it will only reflect four or five years later.
“There are players missing out on franchise cricket and how do we make sure that those good enough to play get the opportunity? “I have no doubt that there’s place for an eighth team, but there’s no way there are enough high-quality players for 12 teams in the elite system,” Dippenaar said.
It will be up to the CSA board to vote on the 12-team suggestion. Herein lies the problem: the board comprises 11 provinces, all acting in their own narrow interests.
“If eight teams is correct, how do we get there? Griquas won’t allow North-West to have a franchise if they don’t have one and Boland won’t allow Border to have one if they don’t. It will require turkeys voting for Christmas,” Dippenaar said.
It is a problem that Australian cricket and, right now, the International Cricket Council (ICC), have wrestled with.
“When the franchise system came in here, CSA said it was what Australia were doing, but a lot of aspects were left out. We must remember that Australia has a population of about 22 million, while we have 50 million people.
“The Lord Woolf report was commissioned by the ICC and it clearly outlines that cricket’s governance is not in favour of the game but is rather a political structure.
“It’s no longer an amateur game but we have clubs electing people to run it. Does that serve the interests of the game? Anyone who can put two-and-two together can see that it doesn’t,” Dippenaar said.
For an illustration of the strength of cricket played outside the six franchises, take the example of Dippenaar’s Chevrolet Knights team-mate, Aubrey Swanepoel: He is the leading run-scorer in the CSA Provincial Challenge with 721 at an average of 72.10. But in his first three SuperSport Series innings, he managed just five runs.