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Bring in the T20 crowds

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By Stuart Hess

Johannesburg – The ‘Ram Slam’. That’ll take some getting used to without childishly giggling. “Sounds like an Aussie sex act,” Nik Rabinowitz tweeted this week.

It is the new name for the domestic T20 competition. Domestically T20 has lost some of its lustre. Maybe it needs a catchy name, no matter how pornographic it may sound.

As a novelty back in 2004/05, matches drew huge crowds. That was less so last season. The absence of the national players doesn’t help of course, but it was felt that the excitement of the format, the length of matches and all the fun off the field would be enough to maintain enthusiasm.

This season will be an interesting test for the competition. It starts on the same weekend as the second Test, and when in full swing will battle for attention against the ODIs and T20 matches being played between Pakistan and South Africa as well as other sports (Super Rugby starts for the South African sides next week).

The standard of the domestic competition remains high as could be seen from the performances of the Titans and the Lions in the Champions League earlier this season. I expect those standards will be maintained, but wonder if that’s sexy enough for the average fan.

There are a number of proposals floating around in Cricket South Africa about improving the T20 competition. Some would like to see it moved to another period in the season, possibly December when more people are on holiday. That may help with crowd numbers, something to which Cricket Australia can attest following the successful staging of the Big Bash League this summer.

Other proposals are more radical in keeping with the changes made in the Big Bash and based on the IPL, with city-based franchises and players all thrown in a big pool from which teams can choose. That may be something for the new Board of Directors to look at as they sift through a number of issues that need finalising in the domestic game.

One of the best developments for the tournament this season is SuperSport’s decision to institute isiXhosa commentary. Obviously the success of multiple language options for the other two major sports has proved very successful. The commentary team will be led by the renowned Peter Bacela, making a return to the airwaves and will include former national pace bowler Monde Zondeki.

It’s a significant step not just for SuperSport, but the game too, with the potential to attract new audiences.

Now if we could get the organisers to use flashing stumps ... – The Star

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