The upcoming T20 league in South Africa will have six teams owned by franchises from the Indian Premier League, governing body CSA informed in a statement on Wednesday.

The owners of Mumbai Indians, Lucknow Super Giants, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals purchased the six franchises.

The open bid process for South Africa’s new T20 league attracted over 29 entities who expressed interest in owning a franchise worldwide. Over 10 venues were made available for interested bidders to own a franchise with each receiving expressions of interest, CSA said.

Commenting on the selection process, recently appointed commissioner for the new league, Graeme Smith said: “We are thrilled to welcome our new franchise owners to the South African League taking place in January and February 2023. This is truly an exciting time for South African cricket; the overwhelming interest shows that the country remains valued in the global cricketing eco-system.”

The former South African captain elaborate on the process used to select teams as well.

“A robust bidding process was followed to select the final six owners, the decision was informed by a scorecard based on various criteria to ensure the utmost professionalism, independence, and objectivity to the process. I would like to thank Deloitte as our advisors for doing a thoroughly professional job in helping South African cricket find partners who add substantial value to our game,” Smith said.

“The strong sports background of the respective owners and the global brands they manage ensures that South African cricket and the broader industry will benefit from their expertise and resources, as they bring stability and experience to the League.”

CSA recently revealed that South African men’s team had withdrawn from a scheduled World Cup Super League one-day international series in Australia in January, which would have clashed with the new tournament.

CSA and South African television company SuperSport are the major shareholders in the league, which is intended to be a major money-spinner for cash-strapped national body.

Reports from India claim the league will in effect be an offshoot of the Indian Premier League, with IPL owners having bought six franchises in South Africa.

The CSA statement on 41-year-old Smith’s appointment did not give any detail about ownership of the franchises but said one of Smith’s first tasks would be “to develop the brand and confirm the participating franchises for the cricket fest to take place annually in South Africa.”

Smith, who retired as a player in 2014, did not renew his contract as CSA director of cricket when it expired in March but it was widely speculated that he would be involved with the T20 project.

“I’m extremely honoured to be entrusted with leading this exciting new venture. I’m deeply committed to South African cricket and happy to serve the game as best I can,” Smith said.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to deliver the new league which I believe will be an extremely competitive product, one that can bring the much-needed investment into the game and provide new opportunities for players around the world and more importantly to our South African home-grown talent.”

A spokesperson for CSA said he could not confirm the reports out of India which named Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Lucknow Super Giants, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals as buyers of South African franchises.

CSA said when it announced its withdrawal from the one-day series in Australia that it wanted its leading players to be available for the new league.

South Africa forfeited the Super League points available for the Australia series and as a consequence may be unable to qualify automatically for the 2023 Cricket World Cup.

“This new league promises to make a significant investment into both professional cricket and development in South Africa, along with a positive socio-economic and tourism injection into the country.” the CSA’s chief executive Pholetsi Moseki said.

Chennai Super Kings Cricket Limited, owners of four-time IPL champions CSK, are said to have bid the highest amount according to ESPNCricinfo and have acquired a team based out of Wanderers.

“We have been evaluating new opportunities across the globe over the past few years. We felt this T20 league in South Africa will be highly competitive and it is a great opportunity for us to give back to the sport. It would also help us to spot new talent,” said Chennai Super Kings CEO K.S. Viswanathan in a statement.

For Mumbai Indians owners, this comes on the back of acquiring a team in the UAE T20 league.

“With our South African franchise, we now have three T20 teams across three countries,” said Akash Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Jio. “We look forward to leveraging our expertise and depth of knowledge in the cricket ecosystem and brand Mumbai Indians to help build the team and provide fans with some of the best cricketing experiences.”

With AFP inputs