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SA20 chief Smith says tournament’s semi-final structure won’t change for integrity purposes

  • SA20 League commissioner Graeme Smith said the structure of the tournament’s semi-finals wasn’t changed so that its integrity wasn’t questioned.
  • The two top teams, the Pretoria Capitals and the Joburg Super Kings, will play their semi-finals at the Wanderers and SuperSport Park in Centurion, respectively.
  • Smith said they don’t have any expansion plans in the pipeline but added that one game would be added to next year’s program.

SA20 League commissioner Graeme Smith said the current semi-final structure of the tournament was kept intact so that it keeps its integrity, even though the top two sides will play their semi-finals at ‘away’ venues.

The Pretoria Capitals will play their semi-final at the Wanderers on Wednesday, while the Joburg Super Kings will play their semi-final at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Thursday.

The Pretoria Capitals closed out the round-robin stage against the Paarl Royals on Tuesday and were uncatchable at the top of the league table, guaranteeing them a play-off slot.

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Smith said the league not only took over the semi-finals but was assured by the teams that they were happy with how the play-off scenarios panned out.

The venues for the play-offs were announced early, with the Newlands, Boland Park and St George’s Park being unavailable because of the Women’s T20 World Cup that starts on Friday. 

“The league takes over the running of the knockout fixtures, even though the franchises run the round-robin games,” Smith said.

“The league takes over to protect the integrity of the knockout games to manage biases and pitch doctoring.

“Ours is to ensure the standard of the knockouts is delivered to a high level, and you’ll see that the branding becomes about the finals.

“Also, we don’t have access to three of the venues because of the T20 Women’s World Cup, which is why the league played the bulk of the early game at the coast and finished up in highveld.

“We don’t have that constraint next year, but this year, we needed to be fair to all teams and stick to the decision that we made.

“If we changed it now, it would be an unnecessary bias against the other teams that have qualified, but we made this decision for the right reasons.

“The teams have also been fair in that they didn’t want any favouritism at this stage of the tournament.”

With the tournament already a visible success, the expansion of the league would always be a term on everyone’s lips, but Smith said the current six-team structure is in place for the next five years.

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Smith, though said the tournament would have an extra game next year, which will come in the form of a slight play-off extension similar to the Indian Premier League’s format.

The IPL’s knockout format sees the top sides playing in a qualifier where the winner goes straight to the final.

The loser gets to play in the second eliminator, where they face the winner of the first eliminator between the third and fourth-placed teams.

Smith said the idea of the winning team getting hosting rights for the following year’s final was floated around but will be played by ear as all six grounds will be available for the entire duration of the tournament.

“We’re bringing in the eliminator because we didn’t have the right logistics this year. I guess having six teams made the semi-finals a lot easier,” Smith said.

“We feel that’s a far more competitive knockout, but we still need to get feedback from the franchises, from where we review things.

“We’ll have to think about giving the final to the team that wins this year and how we spread the knockout games around next year.

“Next year, we’ll have access to all six grounds, and fortunately for this week, the grounds aren’t far from each other.”

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