Another heart brake for Proteas was on the table when news of revealed for latest Kolpak signing Duanne Olivier. Olivier was one of the latest fast bowling sensations who have increased his reputation by leaps and bounce in last year or so. 48 test wickets in 10 international appearances and that too with a bowling average of under 20 runs per wicket but he went to Kolpak route by announcing immediate international retirement. Intrestingly Olivier was named man of the series against Pakistan with his 24 wickets including a ten wicket haul in 3 test match series.
South Africa is the team which have been most affected by Kolpak deals. The Kolpak route taken by some young and talented cricketers have created a turmoil in South African domestic structure and some players who have been pinged to have a long term career with cricket South Africa have shown their back to CSA.
What is Kolpak? When a player opt to play for a county in England by Kolpak deal he cannot represent his native team so that he can become eligible to represent England after playing 3 – 4 years of County cricket. Financial benefits, political reason or lack of opportunity anything could become a reason for a player to go through this route.
Here we will look few of the young talents who ditched South Africa during the past 3-4 years:
A 27 year fast bowler Hardus Viljoen, who represented South Africa in a single test match against England in Jan – 2016 without much success. Although he has time on his side and opportunities were due to come on his way but he decided to take a Kolpak route to fulfill his cricketing ambition when he signed a deal with English County Derbyshire in 2016-17 season. Viljoen have taken 372 first class wickets at a decent average of 26.66 runs per wicket and who knows he can become a big servant of South African cricket had he not opted for kolpak.
Right arm off break bowler Simon Harmer who represented Protease in 5 test matches during the 2015 season and notched up 20 wickets at an average of 29 runs per wicket; but at the age of 26 he decides to part his ways from South African cricket when Essex captured him with a Kolpak deal in 2016. With competition in South African ranks for a lone spin bowling position in test side made Simon to change his mind and opt for a longer and secure cricket career in English County circuit.
MERCHANT DE LANGE
Another raw fast bowler lost by CSA through Kolpak was Merchant De Lange. A tall fast bowler who can generate pace in high 140’s KPH was paved his way in county circuit due to fierce competition in fast bowling ranks of South Africa, Delange took a 7 wicket haul on test debut against Srilanka and have been termed as a next best thing in South African cricket. He also took 4 wicket haul on his limited over debut match but just at an age of 25 years he had other priorities than South African cricket and signed Kolpak deal with Glamorgan.
SITAN VAN ZYL
What else a team wants when he field a young player and he repaid the faith with a century on test match debut and what a team never wants is losing that young talent to Kolpak. Sitan Van Zyl who made it to South African ranks on the back of lots of runs scored in domestic circuit but within 2 years time and at an age of 27 years after 12 test matches he loses his interest in South Africa and signed a Kolpak deal with Sussex to halt his international career for 4 years.
Another South African international David Wiese said good bye to South African cricket when he signed a deal with Sussex to explore better opportunities for himself. Wiese represented South Africa in 6 ODI’s and 20 T20I matches. A medium fast bowler who can pick up wickets with his skillful change in pace and a late order batsman with a first class double hundred to his name was starting to get a consistent run for South Africa before an offer from Sussex barred him from playing international cricket anymore.
Most severe dent faced by South Africa in bowling department was loss of fast bowler Kyle Abbot. Fast bowler who was assured of his place in South African line up because of his improved bowling performances during 2016. With 99 international wickets for South Africa at an average of around 25 runs per wicket Abbot was a skillful bowler with great pace and he was tipped to achieve greater heights for South Africa but age of 29 years he chose Hampshire as a partner for his growth.
Another big loss to South Africa was of Rilee Rossouw. A great batting talent who got a nervy start to his international career when he got 5 ducks in his first ten ODI innings but still his abilities and skills retained the confidence of national selectors. In all he scored 3 ODI hundreds in a stop start career with injuries; one of that century was scored in his last international innings for South Africa at a young age of 27 years. This move of Rossouw made CSA angry as they have invested in talents like Rilee but the opportunities of safe and secured future financially made him to say good bye to South Africa.