South Africa’s former national coach and all-rounder Eric Simons voiced his concerns regarding South Africa’s Ram Slam T20 Challenge which takes place at the end of every year.
For someone who’s involved in the IPL with the Delhi Daredevils and the CPL with the St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Simons knew what he was talking about.
The Ram Slam lacks a few elements that the IPL, Big Bash and CPL possess. It should be on the same level as those tournaments, but it’s far from all that glory.
The success and size of these T20 tournaments mainly depend on the inclusion of international players like Kevin Pietersen, Lasith Malinga, Brendon McCullum and David Warner. If these names are good enough to play in other T20 tournaments, then they are good enough to play in the Ram Slam. South Africa just needs help attracting more of them.
On the one hand, the IPL and Big Bash League are the biggest tournaments with the CPL slowly creeping in to claim a spot. On the other hand, the Ram Slam is falling behind because they lack that much needed global presence for success, which is because they only allow one international professional per franchise.
The make-up of a squad in the IPL consists of two under-22’s, eight local players, not more than ten overseas players; and in the playing XI, no more than four players can be from overseas. There’s nothing wrong with rules, every tournament needs them. But having the quota system in South Africa means tournaments in South Africa would have to be revamped.
However, the introduction of aggressive transformation in South Africa is proving to be a challenge when it comes to expanding the Ram Slam. With six players of colour in every team, add an overseas player (who is considered white, even if he's a Dwayne Bravo or Chris Gayle), and that leaves four spots for contracted white players. A better way to deal with quotas would be to exclude them from Ram Slam – crisis averted.
Although it’s inevitable for the South Africans to dominate squad lists, SA’s big hitters like AB de Villiers, David Miller and Faf du Plessis are touring with the national team, so they are not there to triple the excitement.
Like Simons said, “You have to think big: we need to pitch it more as an international tournament.”
Although reducing international professionals is an option, it defeats the purpose of making the Ram Slam international.
Money shouldn’t be an issue because with a great concept under the belt, sponsors and investors would be willing to dip their toe in T20 cricket. And this type of cricket shouldn’t be chopped and changed just to make up for South Africa’s past. So for that to happen, fireworks are needed. And with the best players involved, the Ram Slam can be commercially viable.
There is so much the Ram Slam can do to shift the odds in their favour. This season, even Sky Sports will broadcast the Ram Slam T20 Challenge. Hopefully, it will attract sponsors with deep pockets, a passion for T20 cricket and great business sense.
Since the Ram Slam takes place during summer, with the Sunfoil Series, Momentum 1 Day Cup and International Cricket, the tournament will now include 2 double headers instead of 3, compared to last season.
The main sponsors have a million to give away to a supporter who takes a one-handed catch and so on. Why not take that million, give it to franchises and let them bring in more international players?
Win a million, glam cam – those ideas will bring crowds into the grounds, but it will not make the Ram Slam an international tournament.
Removing the quota system, adding more international players, getting more sponsors and investors, now that will eventually make the Ram Slam a global name.