Former Proteas spinner Simon Harmer hasn’t completely closed the door on a potential return to the international scene but has outlined issues between Kolpak player and CSA.
Harmer was credited for his efforts at English County side Essex by being named as one of the five leading cricketers in the world by Wisden Almanack this week.
The left-armer has been at the heart of two County Championship victories in the past three seasons, while he also captained the team to the T20 Blast title last year.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Harmer was guarded when discussing his future, especially in terms a return to the Proteas fold, emphasising Cricket South Africa will have to close a lot of gaps in relationships before a possible return.
The implementation of Brexit could see Harmer feature as an overseas player for Essex in the future, instead of a Kolpak, which opens the door for a Proteas recall.
‘There haven’t been any proactive discussions from Cricket South Africa’s side about what would happen. And obviously, I don’t know how happy Essex would be if there was a three-month tour during the English summer, to just release me and be like, yep, you can go. So I think my main responsibility lies for the foreseeable future with Essex,’ said Harmer.
‘I think there’d need to be a lot of discussions between Cricket South Africa and what they were willing to put on the table before I would consider that option but it’s still a long way off yet and a lot can change.’
Harmer went the Kolpak route back in 2016 after making only five Test appearances for the Proteas and copped a great deal of criticism at the time for the way he left the South African franchise system.
Not too long ago, he also indicated his intensions to play for the English national team in the near future after beginning to shine for Essex
But, complications with the UK visa system and how it’ll be implemented under Brexit regulations have put that dream to bed somewhat.
‘It started in the press, with people who didn’t really know how it all worked saying that I’d become England qualified in 2020, and was the plan? Or can we get him involved? So I think it’s all talk. The way that the visas are structured at the moment, the power lies with the ECB.
‘All the Kolpak players are currently on a tier five visa, which means that you would have to be in the UK for 10 years before you could apply for indefinite leave to remain. There is the possibility of moving to a tier two visa but the ECB doesn’t want to explore that,’ Harmer said.
The 31-year-old, though, is adamant that he has had no regrets since moving to the UK and that the opportunity at Essex has given him a second shot at his cricket career.
‘English cricket has given me the opportunity to become a better person and a better player. So I would ultimately like to get a British passport and naturalised in the UK, especially for my future family. But there’s a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of dead ends at the moment. So I think in terms of playing for England, as far as I’m aware, that’s off the table for the foreseeable future.’