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Kolpak's drain on SA





The fact that South Africa demolished Sri Lanka in the second test in Cape Town was no surprise. South African team is a strong test match unit and under South African conditions they are hard to beat. They are well led by Faf du Plessis who has created a winning environment and the team functions particularly well at the moment.

Sri Lanka on the other hand are bereft of ideas and not capable of dealing with the significant challenge they face under unfamiliar conditions. They lack quality leadership, technical expertise and the determination to at least compete with the South African team.

The outcome of the third test match at the Wanderers should be no different. The conditions at the Wanderers will be the toughest Sri Lanka have to deal with during the series so the outcome of the match should be no different than the previous two test matches.

The series victory in Cape Town was somewhat tainted by the surprising announcement that established seam bowler Kyle Abbott has chosen to pursue his career in England as a Kolpak player. Abbott is the first established test player that has chosen this route while currently in the test team.

Over the last ten years many young South African players have chosen this option. A number of ex-South African players have done the same after their international careers were over.

There has been a steady talent drain leaving the country over this period. Remarkably that hasn't really affected the performance of the national team. This is due to the incredible talent that is produced in this country. Therefore, Cricket South Africa (CSA) hasn't seen this as a particular problem, rather an opportunity for other players to come through.

It is easy to see how Abbott came to this decision. For years now since his impressive debut against Pakistan, he has been a fringe player in the South African squad. Until recently when Dale Steyn got injured in Australia he hardly got an opportunity to play in the South African side. Just about every time an opportunity came his way he performed pretty well when selected.

He clearly made this decision when he was in this uncertain situation. One can't blame him for that. A fast bowler has a limited life span and due to the uncertainty surrounding his future it is understandable that Abbott went for an opportunity that brought about security for him over the next three years.

A future in cricket in South Africa is complicated with so many variables involved. Two other fringe players in the South African set-up have also chosen the Kolpak route. Recently, Rilee Rossouw and Stiaan van Zyl made the same decision.

The counties in England are scrambling to sign a number of Kolpak deals right now. The Kolpak arrangement will cease to exist when Brexit takes effect. This should be in about two years’ time. In the meantime, this problem cannot be ignored.

CSA should enforce the rule more strictly that once a player signs a Kolpak deal he can only play in this country as an overseas player. The rules are quite relaxed at the moment and a number of domestic players are having the best of both worlds.

I heard Faf du Plessis say that the current situation should be discussed and a solution found. I hope this will be the case. Sooner or later the talent drain will have an impact.


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