SA20. image Credits: Twitter

The inaugural edition of the SA20 could be the first step along the road to establishing South Africa as a force at international level in T20 cricket.

World Cup success has proved hard to come by for South Africa, with two semi-final appearances (2009 & 2014) the best they have managed since the tournament was launched.

SA20 League Commissioner Graeme Smith is eager to use the SA20 as a vehicle to deliver success for South Africa on the international stage, although he does not think it will happen overnight.

The latest SA20 odds for the new competition suggest Smith may be on to a winner, with little to choose between the six competing teams in the outright betting.

Ahead of the first edition of the SA20, Smith highlighted how the Indian Premier League (IPL) has helped India become a powerhouse in the white ball version of the sport.

He plans to use the IPL as a template for success, and is confident that following the model will transform South Africa’s fortunes at international level.

“I know I keep talking about the IPL but you look at the amount of strong cricketers that have come through in the IPL,” Smith said.

“Looking at trying to find 15 players, hopefully there’s 25-35 players in the next couple of years at a level where it makes the selectors jobs very, very difficult.

“Those that are used to playing big games, exposed to big games. Unfortunately South Africa has to deal with these questions all the time until they actually win a tournament.”

While the SA20 is unlikely to challenge the IPL in terms of global prestige, it may well emerge as a serious rival to some of the other T20 franchise leagues staged globally.

Some of the overseas players that have been attracted to South Africa give the SA20 a fighting chance of immediately competing with the T20 Blast in England and Caribbean Premier League.

From there, the Betway-sponsored can look to challenge the global position currently held by the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and the Big Bash League (BBL) in Australia.

Both leagues contain plenty of homegrown talent, but the BBL does a much better job in attracting some of cricket’s top T20 exponents to play in Australia.

The SA20 has made a solid start in that respect, with Jason Holder, Eoin Morgan, Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid amongst the top names who will feature in the first season.

However, the biggest coup could well be the acquisition of Jos Buttler, particularly as he heads to South Africa as a T20 World Cup winner.

Buttler has signed to play for the Paarl Royals, who are one of the favourites to feature in the final when it is staged in Johannesburg on February 11.

The 32-year-old boasts a wealth of experience in T20 cricket and could be crucial to the Royals’ hopes of getting their hands on the trophy.

While the SA20 may never knock the IPL off its perch, securing the services of top talents such as Buttler gives the competition an extremely solid base to work from.

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