JOHANNESBURG – It remains unclear exactly what the future will hold for players taking up Kolpak contracts before “Brexit” has been finalised, but what is clear is that Duanne Olivier won’t be available to South Africa for the next three years.
Having just established himself in the Proteas team following a stunning summer in which he claimed 24 wickets in three Tests against Pakistan, the 26-year-old has chosen to end his international career after playing just 10 Tests and two one-day internationals by signing a three-year county contract with Yorkshire, home of current England captain Joe Root.
Again the spotlight has been shone on the sport’s finances which are heavily weighted in favour of the so called “Big Three”; England, India and Australia. In SA’s case with the rand being as weak as it is, players will always feel tempted when offers come in from the UK. On Tuesday afternoon, one pound was worth more than R18.
Ironically, Olivier got his Test debut as a result of Kyle Abbott’s decision to take a Kolpak contract two years ago, along with Rilee Rossouw. The decision by those two players caused much anxiety – and some anger especially for former Proteas coach Russell Domingo – in local cricket circles with many thinking a major exodus was in the offing as no one seemed sure about the legality of Kolpak deals and if they would even be offered following “Brexit”.
That status remains with “Brexit” apparently closing in and supposed to be taking place on 29 March.
Not that Cricket SA can be bothered with all that right now. It is losing another player, in which it has invested time and money and the organisation’s chief executive Thabang Moroe’s fury was clear in a statement released just an hour after Yorkshire made public their new signing.
“We find it extremely disappointing that Duanne has taken this step after all the opportunities we have given him, particularly over the past season and going forward, to live his dream of being an international cricketer,” said Moroe.
“He was upgraded to a national contract during the current season on the strength of his outstanding performances in our Test squad and we offered him a two-year contract which would have given him financial security through to the end of the 2020-2021 season.”
Olivier obviously didn’t view that contract as offering sufficient security. “This decision is based on more than money. For my career and everything I want to achieve, I truly believe this is the best choice for me and my family,” Olivier stated on Instagram.
Of course there are other concerns for the international game too, as Moroe pointed out.
“If one looks at the bigger picture this is not good news for the global game either that a player who has just broken into the top 20 on the ICC Test match bowling rankings for the first time should opt effectively to bring down the curtain on his international career in favour of playing only in domestic leagues,” he said.