We are fully underway in the English County Championship and with Morne Morkel confirmed as the latest Kolpak signing on the county circuit, South African fans have a right to be twitchy about what the future holds for their national team.
This post may be hypocritical to some as I posted last year saying how good a Kolpak move is for a South African cricketer but that doesn’t take away from some of the issues that it creates for other parties, especially the South African national team.
Though Morkel was the marque Kolpak signing of the winter, Heino Kuhn also joined Kent in the off-season. He joined Kyle Abbott, Dane Vilas, Stiaan van Zyl, David Wiese and Rilee Roussouw (there is more) in becoming Kolpak which meant turning their back on the South African side. Whilst Morkel’s decision comes surely as a financial decision (he averaged 19.60 with the ball in his last series v Australia), the numerous names on there come from a backlash of a ‘quota’ being installed to have a minimum of four coloured players
This is where now we are entering into dangerous territory so I’ll tread lightly, but for one minute, let’s follow Kyle Abbott’s career. Abbott averages 22.71 in Test Matches, 30.91 in ODIs and 22.96 in T20 internationals. It came to a head in the 2015 World Cup when Abbott was averaging 14.44, had 9 wickets from 4 innings and was a dead cert to play in the semi-final, right? Wrong! Vernon Philander recovered from injury and was selected in Abbott’s place, a coloured player replaced a white player to fill the ‘quota’, South Africa went on to lose their semi final to New Zealand by 4 wickets and from that day, Abbott turned his back on South African cricket in very quick time.
Of course, the rules for Kolpak Cricketers are now much stricter. It is part of a deal called the Cotonou Agreement with the EU where by South Africa are involved. The crux will be when Britain leaves the EU, however this is not a politics blog and I don’t have great knowledge on the matter.
Moving on, it should also be known that this post is not for slating coloured players and Vernon Philander, it is a post to slate the logic behind not picking your best team and losing them to a system which benefits them more. A system that makes them look much weaker than they should be.
I say that whilst fast forwarding to after the 2019 World Cup where the ageing nucleus of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis will all look to move on, Dale Steyn also is not getting any younger and with injuries plighting his career – there is a cloud over his overall fitness. Of course, there are positives in Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock carrying the batting with Kasigo Rabada and Lungi Ngidi holding up the bowling but four players don’t win you matches and it is a worry for South African fan every where to see where this team goes after that 2019 World Cup.
So South Africa, by all means worship your Temba Bavuma’s, Aiden Markram’s and Kasigo Rabada’s but please don’t forget about your Henrich Klaasen’s or your Duane Olivier’s because if you do, they will go somewhere that they will be remembered for a long time…