Hong Kong’s City Kaitak owners to invest US$100 million in South Africa T20 franchise
The team will play out of Bloemfontein in the Global T20 League and will retain batsman David Miller as their allocated player
The owners of Hong Kong T20 Blitz team City Kaitak are to spend more than US$100 million over 10 years to support a South African franchise in the new Global T20 League to be launched later this year.
City Sports, which is part of the Hong Kong-based City Group, is one of eight successful bidders for franchises – out of 26 bids and 150 expressions of interest – for the ambitious league, whose franchise owners include Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.
Co-owner Alok Jain said the team will play out of Bloemfontein, the capital city of Free State province. He added that Hong Kong players could also be involved in the tournament, which will be played every year in November and December.
“We at City Sports were quite excited with the overall performance of the Hong Kong tournament and international demand for good quality T20 cricket,” said Jain. “It was obvious to look for expansion beyond the bounds of Hong Kong.
“Coincidentally, CSA [Cricket South Africa] also announced their invitation for T20 Global League right around that time.
“We took a leap of faith and submitted our bid. We are excited that we made the final cut and thank CSA for considering our participation aligned with their vision.”
Bloemfontein will retain dashing South African batsman David Miller as their franchise player and will play at the Mangaung Oval.
Other teams are: Durban (franchise player Hashim Amla), Benoni (Quinton de Kock), Pretoria (AB de Villiers), Stellenbosch (Faf du Plessis), Cape Town (JP Duminy), Johannesburg (Kagiso Rabada) and Port Elizabeth (Imran Tahir).
City Kaitak finished runners-up at the 2017 Hong Kong Blitz and brought in players such as Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan, West Indies’ Nicholas Pooran and Rayad Emrit, England’s Chris Jordan and Scotland’s Kyle Coetzer.
Like with its Hong Kong sister side, City Sports hope to be involved in developing the game among the community in South Africa.
“Our focus in on investment in human capital,” said Jain. “We want to bring the best expertise to ensure we create new standards in running a franchise. That would be our real long-term investment,” he said.
“Financially, the operation is expected to cost more than US$100 million. Apart from the franchise fees, the investment includes player costs, upgrading the Mangaung Oval and establishing the framework for developing the youth in South Africa.
“Of course [Hong Kong players are involved]. An integral part of our objectives to get involved with Hong Kong T20 Blitz was to participate in the development of cricket in Hong Kong. This is just an extension of our vision.
“Having said that we are also a performance-driven enterprise. While we shall do our bit in creating the platform, in the end, it would be the performance of individual players that would matter.”
When asked how the Hong Kong brand would be delivered in South Africa, Jain said: “This is still under discussion with CSA but we intend to reflect our bond with Hong Kong in our name, logo and other branding. Our franchise will be a vehicle to bring two cultures closer.”