South Africa have long been associated with the problem of Kolpak. Generally, Kolpak is the ticket to play cricket in England that surrounds one with momentary, and monetary, gains. You cannot play for your national team and on the hindsight, make your way in England’s County cricket.
The nation that has been hit badly by this emergence of the Kolpak is South Africa. Recently, this trend of players leaving for Kolpak deals have got Cricket South Africa coming out with a new plan and program from now now onward. It remains to be seen whether the method works in its favour.
We have seen several key performers leave all of a sudden. The larger issue has been developing young cricketers and then losing them to this Kolpak deals.
Recently, Cricket South Africa official Corrie van Zyl said that the alarming trend of players opting for County cricket over the national team has forced the board to think about the long-term contract for its cricketers.
Cricket South Africa is keen on retaining its talented players, most of whom are taking the Kolpak route to play English County cricket.
Last year, the Proteas lost a talented fast bowler in the form of Duanne Olivier. This didn’t go well with many cricketers and the fans. The issue is for someone like a Olivier, who was a sensation in first class cricket, besides being the top wicket-taker in the Mzansi Super League. To get a chance to represent your nation and then throwing it all away was pretty hard to digest.
There are many such examples on offer here. What you end up losing is serious talents. Here we analyse the issues Kolpak has caused and other interesting facts as well.
SA not the force they used to be
But as much as this is about losing a young talent, it is also about the fact that South Africa aren’t quite the same force in world cricket as they used to be. The 2019 World Cup was a prime example of this. The loss against Sri Lanka in Tests and the inconsistency across formats have bothered the side.
SA are aware of the fact that they can ill afford to lose talent to English counties and global T20 leagues.
Over the years, the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Neil Wagner, Grant Eliott, Ryan ten Doeschate, Kruger van Wyk have all left the Proteas set-up early in their careers and moved on to different nations and opportunities. This issue is still been seen. To see Proteas firing again, things need to get a new meaning and dimension.
What has Cricket South Africa planned?
After losing players like Klye Abbot and Olivier in recent times, CSA director Van Zyl has come up with a plan. “What the reasons are for some of the players that signed the Kolpak deal is best known to them.” Van Zyl was quoted as saying by PTI. “I can’t speculate as to why they would want to do that. What is important for Cricket South Africa is to ensure that we can retain our best players.”
“Central Contract is one aspect. We are looking at longer term contracts and long term service-incentive schemes. We are making sure that within SA cricket fraternity, we try to understand where the players stand. So it’s a combination of number of factors,” he added.
Why communication and a method is key?
To prevent players from choosing Kolpak deals one needs to understand that there is a need for proper communication channel with players to clarify where they stand in terms of selections and safer contracts. That’s the job of CSA to identify and sort the same.
South Africa have rules and regulations in their teams. One such policy is on an average, there has to be five players of colour in the playing XI of every match. To give more details, there are strict quotas have been enforced at all levels, starting from even the national academy, where 60 percent of players need to be black Africans, to South Africa A (55 %), to Provincial cricket (seven non-white players, three of whom have to be black), first class (six non-white, two of whom have to be black) and international cricket (six non-white, including two black).
Now all these clauses and regulations often impact players who are unsure on what role will they have or how can they fit in. This has seen a mass exodus of sorts. Therefore, one needs complete transparency and honesty.
Why players opt for Kolpak route and what is it?
A player becomes eligible to sign for a county under the Kolpak deal only after he gives up his right to play for his country. According to rules, a Kolpak player must not have represented his country in the past 12 months and during the period of his contract with a county, he will not be eligible to represent his country. The Kolpak players will be eligible to play for England after plying their trade in the country for four years.
Generally there are two categories of Kolpak players. Quite a few aged cricketers, who are out of reckoning when it comes to national selection, turn to playing domestic cricket in England mainly for financial gains and love for the game. The other category is a young cricketer, who decides to head in the direction of an EU nation in hopes of pursing his career. You will see many players playing in Associate teams to make a career.
Several players in their prime have taken the Kolpak path, sometimes to re-establish themselves on the cricketing scene, sometimes due to disputes with their boards, while for some, County cricket is a good career option as it has promising money on offer.