Kolpak’s Deal Undeciphered

Kolpak’s Deal Undeciphered

4 minutes read

Kolpak’s deal. Heard of the term anywhere? Well, most us haven’t. But we’re well aware of the fact that two well-known cricketers from South Africa, Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw, have opted to play county cricket instead of playing International cricket.

Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw have signed a contract of 4 years and 3 years respectively with the English county side Hampshire (Yeah, the one KP used to play for). The contract has been signed under “Kolpak’s Rule”. The Kolpak’s Rule states that, “Citizens of countries that are part of European Union Association Agreements, which are free trade treaties between the EU and other countries, also have the right to work in any EU country.” South Africa is part of a deal called the Cotonou Agreement with the EU. Zimbabwe and several Caribbean nations are also signatories, so their players are eligible for Kolpak deals too. Remember Brendan Taylor? He also signed for English County side Nottinghamshire under the same rule and thus brought down the curtains to his Zimbabwe International career. Though, after the “Brexit”, the amount of Kolpak Deals has reduced significantly.

The ECB paid GBP 1,100 less to a county for each game a Kolpak player represented a side instead of a qualified English player. While there were no restrictions from the EU to enforce this rule, it did not reduce the number of overseas players as counties continued to sign cricketers from other countries.

Another reason for the two players to quit South African International Cricket was the quota system undertaken by CSA. In September last year, Cricket South Africa announced that a maximum of five white players can be picked in the eleven, on average. This means some white players, such as Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw, may not get as many chances to play for South Africa.

People may wonder that is this what South African born Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott underwent, they could only play International Cricket for England because one of their grandparents were English.

'Kolpak's' Deal Undeciphered

Abbott revealed that he had signed the deal while playing for Worcestershire five months ago. Although Abbott has become a regular in the Test side since Steyn’s injury, he had spent the previous four years struggling for a place in the side. The 2nd Test against Sri Lanka was only Abbott’s 11th Test, despite taking nine wickets on debut back in February 2013. Abbott said, “I look at things, like the 2019 World Cup, would I be playing in there? Probably not. I think how many Tests I can probably play in the next two or three years, and I am not going to get to 50.” Faf du Plessis on Abbott’s decision, he said, “That was not the way we wanted. It was something that we didn’t expect and it was out of our control. We did get together and spoke to Kyle and tried to change his mind. Kyle had already set up what he wanted to do.”

There are some advantages to the “Kolpak’s Deal”. Here are some of them:
(i)South African domestic cricket pays significantly less than English county cricket. And with the South African rand weakening, the gap is widening. Thus the players can earn more money.
(ii)The Counties get better players without having to field them as foreign players. Each county is only allowed to field one overseas player (or two in the NatWest Blast). So, basically, it is like Royal Challengers Bangalore being able to sign Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers and play them without counting them as foreign players.
(iii)The best of Kolpak Deal is that it is not the end of International Road for a player. Once the contract has ended or terminated midway, the player can come back to his home country and play International Cricket again. One such example is Jacques Rudolph who signed a Kolpak deal with Yorkshire in 2007 after being dropped from the South African team in 2006. He was released from it in 2010 and played again for South Africa in 2011.

Now we’ll peek onto the other side of the coin i.e. the disadvantages and they are as follows:
(i)For home countries – They lose out on good and talented players from their National and Domestic sides.
(ii)For England – Home grown/ English players have reduced showing up because of competing with stronger opponents. Also the chances of showcasing their talent has, thus, dropped.
Here’s a list of some famous cricketers who have walked Kolpak’s path:

Faf du Plessis (South Africa)
Neil McKenzie (South Africa)
Alviro Petersen (South Africa)
Ryan McLaren (South Africa)
Andre Nel (South Africa)
Colin Ingram (South Africa)
Jacques Rudolph (South Africa)
Justin Kemp (South Africa)
Paul Harris(South Africa)
Ashwell Prince (South Africa)
Andy Flower (Zimbabwe)
Grant Flower (Zimbabwe)
Dwayne Smith (West Indies)
Ryan ten Doeschate (Netherlands)

To conclude this, all I would like to say is that, though there are many advantages to this deal, the fact that you cannot represent your country for that duration, cannot be ignored. Many players do it at an early age to gain experience in foreign conditions and support their family with the extra money in hand. But, the ultimate goal lies in playing International Cricket.

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