South African skipper Faf du Plessis on Tuesday rued loss of their players to county cricket under the Kolpak deal and hoped the situation would favour the Proteas post Brexit.
In the aftermath of the 0-3 series loss to India, Du Plessis pointed out that they were missing out on their best players due to the Kolpak deal, and gave the example of off-spinner Simon Harmer, who has done well for Essex in the past two years.
“It’s sad for South African cricket not to have the option of their best players. [Off-spinner] 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.
“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.”
Harmer is one among the 60-odd players from countries around the world to have taken advantage of the European Union residency rules so that they could join county teams without being considered “overseas players” as per Kolpak accord.
But Kolpak deal also prevents them to represent their respective countries, leaving Cricket South Africa without the services of Harmer alongside established pacers Duanne Olivier and Kyle Abbott, who also opted to play in England.
Recently retired South Africa great Hashim Amla is also set to sign for English county club Surrey with a Kolpak registration and Du Plessis saw it as a loss-loss scenario. Pacer Morne Morkel, who retired last year, is also playing county cricket.
“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.
“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.
Du Plessis added, “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.”
But the no-deal Brexit could mean “Kolpak” cricketers are no longer a part of the English county circuit by 2021, according to updated guidance from the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Post-Brexit, the Kolpak deals would likely to cease at the end of the 2020 season as the ECB has issued an email to the 18 first-class counties noting a series of potential implications.
“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 said.
The 34-year-old, however, still believed that the counties may still find a loophole around by saying they have another overseas player. “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 said.