South African captain Faf du Plessis on Tuesday expressed dismay over the loss of their players to county cricket under the Kolpak deal.
Expecting the situation to favour the Proteas after Brexit, Du Plessis said that the visitors were missing out on their best players due to the Kolpak deal.
“It’s sad for South African cricket not to have the option of their best players. Simon Harmer has had an unbelievable season. And it would be great for South Africa to be in a position where they could go, ‘He’s done well overseas. Let’s bring him on tour with us’,” Du Plessis said in the aftermath of the 0-3 series loss to India.
Harmer, who has done well for the Essex in the past two years, had picked up 10 wickets in 2 Test matches in South Africa’s previous tour to India.
Its been 3 years since these two signed the Kolpak deal …
2017 – 72 wickets at 19.19 Av
2018- 57 wickets at 24.45
2019- 83 wickets at 18.18
17- 60 at 18.20
18- 51 at 23.17
19- 71 at 15.73
394 wickets between two in 3 seasons. Incredible numbers.
— Aditya kulkarni (@kulkarniaditya5) September 28, 2019
“You are missing out on all your best players and your talent pool is all of a sudden a lot smaller. So that’s something that we’ve tried to identify to stop. But it’s been very difficult to stop,” Du Plessis told reporters in the post-match press conference.
The likes of Harmer, Kyle Abbott, and Morne Morkel are among more than 40 South African players who have taken this route in recent years – a list that includes several cricketers with promising careers, like Rilee Roussouw and Duanne Olivier.
Kolpak allows these players to join county cricket, under European Union residency rules, without being considered “overseas players”.
But it also prevents them to represent their respective countries, leaving Cricket South Africa in dearth of talent.
Pointing the example of Hashim Amla, who is set to sign for English county club Surrey under Kolpak, Du Plessis said, “Even the guys going there post international cricket, like Hashim Amla, those guys, they won’t be playing domestic cricket back home.”
“So you lose all of that experience, which would have helped the young guys so much. Playing with Hashim Amla is the greatest learning curve that you can get. Playing with Dale Steyn, playing with AB de Villiers, all those guys… so it’s about making sure that you can bridge that gap and finding ways to do it,” he said.
“So that’s the situation where we need to get to. Because at the moment we don’t get the option of all the best players, you know. So that will always be a concern for us. Obviously, from a financial point of view, the Pound is stronger than the Rand… But the lesser of those things that there are for players to go overseas, obviously, that that will be much beneficial for cricket in South Africa because at the moment, we’re losing our experience in international cricket,” he concluded.
However, without the no-deal Brexit Kolpak cricketers will have to leave the English counties by 2021, according to updated guidance from the England and Wales Cricket Board.
“So maybe, post-Brexit, guys will still go and play there, but you can still pick them for your country. Brexit will be one thing that will stop obviously the Kolpak players. So yes that would benefit SA cricket tremendous amounts,” du Plessis explained.
“It will still mean that players will go and play there and will just be under a different name tag. Because opportunities are there for players in the domestic circuit in England,” he concluded.