A deal stitched in faraway England has effectively brought an end to the career of South African cricketer Kyle Abbott his country. Talks with Cricket South Africa (CSA) failed after Abbott decided to accept a Kolpak deal with Hampshire.
The deal came to light after ESPNCricinfo reported the news two days ago and CSA has decided to terminate his contract with immediate effect after two days of negotiations with Abbott’s agent Weber van Wyk could not make any headway.
It has now come to light that Rilee Rossouw has also signed a similar contract with Hampshire.
According to Hampshire, the deal with 29-year-old Abbott will last for four years while the one signed by Rossouw will last three years. If news reports are to be believed there are others from the South African team for whom a similar deal is on the table.
“If somebody gives up their right to play for the Proteas, there’s not much more we can do. Instead of crying over spilt milk, we will invest in future Proteas,” CSA Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said after the developments.
Kolpak deal refers to the ruling is a European Court of Justice ruling in May 2003 in favour of Maroš Kolpak, a Slovak handball player. The ruling said that citizens of countries which have signed European Union Association Agreements have the same right to freedom of work and movement within the EU as EU citizens.
This means that Abbot and Rossouw can sign contracts with any English county side without being categorised at overseas players. To qualify for a Kolpak contract, the player must have given up the right to play for his own country and the English county has to be his priority. During an off season, the player can play for his home country, if selected but the county has to be given priority, if there is a clash.
If Britain leaves the European Union, Kolpak contracts may not be possible. That is the reason why players who are Kolpak-eligible want to take a decisive step right now.
However, the South African career of Abbott may not yet be over. His South African teammate Jaques Rudolph had signed a Kolpak deal with Yorkshire in 2007 after being dropped from the South African team. He was released in 2010 and played again for South Africa in 2011.
South African cricket has a quota system where a maximum of five white players can be picked in the playing eleven. Since some good players fail to make it to the team because of the quota system, they look for greener pastures like Kolpak contracts.