English market opens for SA players
Claude Henderson is probably the best spinner in South Africa. Now, thanks to a precedent set by a Slovakian handball player, he has made himself unavailable to play for his country.
The Western Province and Cape franchise left armer has signed a two-year contract with English county Leicestershire, and he won't be regarded as an overseas player. He'll be counted as a 'local'.
Confused? So was Maros Kolpak when he was denied the chance to play handball in Germany because Slovakia was not a part of the European Union and therefore trade restrictions applied.
But Slovakia does have an associate agreement with the EU and Kolpak took his case to the European Court based on that. He won his case. So how does that affect South Africa?
SA, along with several other African countries and a good few Caribbean islands, have a similar 'associate' agreement with the EU.
As long as nine months ago the heads of the English counties tried to address the frightening prospect of their game becoming over-run by talented South Africans and West Indians who were prepared to forego the chance of playing for their country in exchange for the regular (and very good) salaries offered by the English game.
They discussed a 'gentleman's agreement' and a 'voluntary quota' of Kolpak players but neither measure was deemed to be legal and besides, none of the county chairmen really trusted each other. It was only a matter of time before someone broke ranks to sign a potential match-winner. In county cricket, the dogs always eat other dogs.
So now Henderson has become cricket's equivalent of Jean-Mark Bosman (soccer) and Kolpak (handball). South Africa, of course, has suddenly become a country with 50 unemployed first-class cricketers.
English counties have become extremely resourceful in finding and recruiting the world's best (and available) talent, even to the extent of reading this column.
May I suggest, gentlemen, that you obtain a telephone number for Wendell Bossenger, one of the most gifted wicket-keeper batsmen to have emerged from South Africa in the last 20 years.
A proven match-winner and captain, charismatic and extremely loyal (possibly the reason for his low profile after remaining with Griqualand West for his entire career), Bossenger might just be the magic ingredient for someone in England if the rumours are true that not one of our country's six new franchises has signed him.