S.N. Don's blog
The Evil That is Kolpak
It’s so much harder to put together an article while the FIFA World Cup is taking place and the conclusion of a 5-0 spanking of the sandpaperless Australians. The only positive that the Australians could possibly cling to was the performances of Billy Stanlake who looks like he could be a more than useful addition. However, the stand out player was Jos Buttler who looks the real deal. And the whitewash came without Ben Stokes being fit to play. Neil Burns’ piece last month got my grey matter working, and in particular this statement:
“To move forward, and enjoy sustainable success, the England team needs A SUPPLY OF TOP QUALITY ENGLISH players. So, what can the ECB do about sporting this critical objective? Or are they indeed a major part of the problem itself?”
Neil covers the role of the ECB far more eloquently than I could. What about the responsibility of the counties to produce top quality cricketers eligible to play for England in any format of the game? This is where Kolpak rears its ugly head.
When I was a kid, counties were restricted to the number of overseas players that could play. In the heady days of the 60s and 70s, we were blessed with the likes of Barry Richards, Mike Proctor, Glenn Turner (the last batsman to score 1,000 runs before the end of May), Viv Richards, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Imran Khan, Javed (never given out LBW in Pakistan) Miandad, Kapil Dev, Bishan Bedi, Richard Hadlee, Malcolm Marshall… the list goes on. All of these were cricketers of the highest quality. Fast forward 40 plus years and we have Kolpak. Far too many cricketers are being recruited on contracts which reduces the number of youngsters coming through the various systems and academies across the country.
Currently, Kolpak will be in place until Brexit is finally delivered as currently, the Kolpak rule means that citizens of countries that are part of European Union Association Agreements, which are free trade treaties between the EU and other countries, also have the same right. While the player is under contract to a County, he is ineligible to represent his home country but there is nothing to stop a player returning to the international fold once the County contract expires. Talk about having your cake and eating it.
My plea to the ECB and the 18 first class counties is that once Brexirt is delivered, Kolpak is consigned to the bin and a maximum of two overseas players per county, per format of the game is permitted.