Simon Harmer. Picture: REUTERS
Simon Harmer. Picture: REUTERS

TWO fast bowlers‚ a short-format allrounder‚ an offspinner‚ a middle order batsman and an opening batsman have decided to ply their trade in England. Kyle Abbott, Hardus Viljoen‚ David Wiese, Simon Harmer‚ Rilee Rossouw and Stiaan van Zyl have all signed Kolpak deals in recent months, which takes them out of the equation for selection for South Africa.
Their collective contribution to the Proteas amounts to 29 Tests‚ 70 one-day appearances and 56 T20 games. All told, that‘s 155 caps worth of international experience taken out of the system.
Rory Kleinveldt‚ Colin Ingram and Richard Levi, who have all represented South Africa, have also gone the Kolpak route.
“It‘s disappointing to lose players of the calibre of Kyle and Rilee but you can‘t blame these players‚ or any of the Kolpak players‚ for going this route‚” said Tony Irish‚ the chief executive of the SA Cricketers‘ Association.

“They are heading for environments in which they believe their careers will be more secure. We need to look more critically at how we can make players more secure in the South African environment.
“This is not just about money but also about other issues that matter to players. Our top players are scarce resources in [whom] Cricket SA has invested and we have to look for a more effective retention strategy for them.”
Stemming the Kolpak tide looms as the biggest challenge the game in this country will face in 2017.
CSA is thinking about limiting the number of Kolpak players allowed in domestic teams. That does carry the danger of players thus treated avoiding being part of the South African game altogether — which would create more opportunities for players who are not planning to go to Kolpak.
But it may also lead to a lowering of standards at franchise level.
A plan to manage the situation is in the works. Once released it will be the most studied document since the ball-tampering regulations.
For its next trick, CSA will need to pull out all the stops to lend its proposed new T20 tournament the credibility it will need to square up to the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash League. Just where the hard currency will come from to buy the sort of players who will guarantee that credibility is the unanswered question.
CSA will want to keep hitting its transformation targets in the national teams for a range of reasons‚ among them to earn Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula‘s blessing to bid to host the 2018 World T20. (That‘s if the International Cricket Council decides to shift the tournament from its current four-year frequency to a biennial schedule.)
And then there‘s India. Before their previous tour to South Africa‚ in 2013‚ India subjected CSA to an ordeal not unlike a cruel child spending an afternoon pulling the wings and legs off an insect. After much desperation and sometimes unethical behaviour, a tour shortened from 12 to five matches was agreed to‚ and CSA took a hit of R318000 in lost revenue.
Several of the bully boys have since been removed from their positions but‚ as a consequence‚ Indian cricket is in a state of flux.
That will make India‘s suits even more volatile and unreasonable. Good luck‚ CSA. — TMG Digital

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