• Kolpak conundrum: Did Duanne time it just right?

    With Brexit threatening to end the opportunity for cricketers to sign Kolpak deals that allow them access to lucrative county contracts (and invaluable playing opportunities), Duanne Olivier’s timing appears to be just right.

    Maros Kolpak has little idea of the impact he has had on world cricket. Literally. A second-division German handball league goalkeeper of Slovakian descent, Kolpak challenged a decision to be registered as a foreign player on the basis that he had lived and worked in Germany for three years. A lengthy court case ended with a positive outcome for him in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

    A year later, Claude Henderson used the Kolpak ruling to have himself registered as a ‘UK player’ (South Africa was a signee of the Cotonou Agreement with the EU) which allowed him to live and work in the UK. 

    Bucketloads of South African cricketers have since signed Kolpak deals (including current Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis) to allow them to play as ‘local’ players on the English county circuit, to the extent that in 2008 a match between Leicestershire and Northamptonshire included 12 South Africans out of the 22 men on the field.

    READ ALSO: Eight post-Duanne Olivier options

    Kolpak agreements force players to give up their rights to play for their country during the term of their Kolpak contract, but on a positive note, this has given many South African cricketers incredible exposure and experience playing overseas.

    There is a school of thought that believes the presence of Kolpak cricketers has weakened English cricket by taking away cricketing opportunities from English players. Their Test and T20 sides are ranked fifth on the ICC rankings, but are highly competitive – some poor performances have resulted in series losses that have pushed them down the rankings, but that must be laid at the feet of the players, not the standard of English cricket, which is extremely high.

    Their ODI side is, in fact, No 1 in the world and must be favourites to win the 2019 Cricket World Cup, with India right behind them.

    The impact of Brexit (when – or if – it finally pushes through) is predicted to bring an end to future Kolpak agreements, so for Olivier the moment to sign was right. Between possible uncertainty over his future position in a Proteas side that is congested with brilliant pace bowlers, as well as being in the form of his life, the option of taking a Kolpak deal was probably the only wise decision he could make.

    When you’re in demand you have to make tough decisions, and then live with all of the consequences. Whether it was the right decision or not for Olivier, only time will tell.

    READ ALSO: Duanne With the Wind

    While his loss is a great blow for South African cricket, the really big worry could be if a string of other players suddenly sign Kolpak deals before Brexit blows up the opportunity forever.

    The next two months could be very, very interesting for South African cricket, and one wonders why AB de Villiers hasn’t signed a Kolpak deal himself. If he’s retired from international cricket, surely there’s nothing standing in his way …

    Kolpak cricketers

    Year Name Country County team(s)
    2004 Claude Henderson South Africa Leicestershire
    2004 Grant Flower Zimbabwe Essex
    2004 Greg Smith South Africa Derbyshire, Essex
    2004 Ottis Gibson Barbados
    2005 Riki Wessels South Africa Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire
    2005 Charl Willoughby South Africa Leicestershire, Somerset
    2005 Martin van Jaarsveld South Africa Kent, Glamorgan
    2005 Murray Goodwin Zimbabwe Sussex
    2006 Lance Klusener South Africa
    2006 Paul Harris South Africa Warwickshire
    2007 Anthony Ireland Zimbabwe Gloucestershire, Middlesex
    2007 Faf du Plessis South Africa Lancashire
    2007 Garnett Kruger South Africa Leicestershire, Derbyshire
    2007 Jacques Rudolph South Africa Yorkshire
    2007 Pedro Collins Barbados Surrey, Middlesex
    2007 Ryan McLaren South Africa Kent
    2007 Tyron Henderson South Africa Middlesex
    2008 Alfonso Thomas South Africa Somerset
    2008 Andre Adams New Zealand Nottinghamshire, Hampshire
    2008 Andrew Hall South Africa
    2008 Charl Langeveldt South Africa Derbyshire
    2008 Corey Collymore Barbados
    Sussex, Middlesex
    2008 Dillon du Preez South Africa Leicestershire
    2008 Dominic Telo South Africa Derbyshire
    2008 Dwayne Smith Barbados Sussex
    2008 Friedel de Wet South Africa Somerset
    2008 Jermaine Lawson Jamaica
    2008 Johan van der Wath South Africa
    2008 Justin Kemp South Africa Kent
    2008 Nantie Hayward South Africa Hampshire, Derbyshire
    2008 Nicky Boje South Africa
    2008 Shaun Pollock South Africa Durham
    2008 Wavell Hinds Jamaica Derbyshire
    2009 André Nel South Africa Surrey
    2010 Neil McKenzie South Africa Hampshire
    2011 Johann Myburgh South Africa Hampshire, Somerset
    2012 Gareth Roderick South Africa
    2013 Ashwell Prince South Africa Lancashire
    2013 Brendan Nash Jamaica Kent
    2013 Kyle Jarvis Zimbabwe Lancashire
    2014 Colin Ingram South Africa Glamorgan
    2015 Alviro Petersen South Africa Lancashire
    2015 Brendan Taylor Zimbabwe
    2015 Fidel Edwards Barbados Hampshire
    2015 Richard Levi South Africa
    2016 Ravi Rampaul Trinidad and Tobago Surrey, Derbyshire
    2016 Hardus Viljoen South Africa Derbyshire
    2016 Simon Harmer South Africa Essex
    2016 Stiaan van Zyl South Africa Sussex
    2017 Tino Best Barbados Hampshire
    2017 David Wiese South Africa Sussex
    2017 Daryn Smit South Africa Derbyshire
    2017 Grant Elliott New Zealand
    2017 Kyle Abbott South Africa Hampshire
    2017 Rilee Rossouw South Africa Hampshire
    2017 Merchant de Lange South Africa Glamorgan
    2017 Shivnarine Chanderpaul Guyana Lancashire
    2018 Heino Kuhn South Africa Kent
    2018 Morné Morkel South Africa Surrey
    2018 Wayne Parnell South Africa
    2019 Duanne Olivier South Africa Yorkshire

    Source: Irish Times, Wikipedia

    Photo: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images

    Post by

    Simon Lewis