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Effect of Brexit on Cricket: South Africa's possible XIs including Kolpak returns

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
Modified 08 Feb 2020, 12:08 IST

Rilee Rossouw made an unpopular decision in 2017, but may yet return.
Rilee Rossouw made an unpopular decision in 2017, but may yet return.

In one of the biggest talking points post the 'Brexit', cricket in South Africa may receive a massive boost as all Kolpak players will more than likely become eligible to represent the Proteas once again, some after a very long time and some after a short period in exile.

Following the UK's decision to leave the EU, it is expected that the Kolpak rule will be changed for any new players, but the existing players might also have the option or be forced to abandon their status as local players and become a club's second overseas player. This is because some players are on temporary deals, which dominates the deals players have taken in the past, especially players using European passports.

We will look at which players will become available and which of these players may return in the three formats, while also touching on who is out of the running due to various factors. Having experienced veterans who would return to the fold in and around the newer players in South Africa's domestic circuit would be invaluable but the more tempting question to examine is which ones could actually return to playing for the nation and make the most use of their second chance.

For most of the players, we will never know the reasons for committing to a Kolpak deal, so some 'returning' players may have no interest in ever representing their nation again, with Simon Harmer and Rilee Rossouw potentially being prime examples, but we will assume, unless clearly told otherwise, that a player would be open to a comeback if the opportunity arose.

While most of the Kolpak players are more senior in age and are pretty old to be picked for the XIs, the challenges of the T20 format do not consider age as a barrier when spaces are open and with two T20 World Cups just around the corner, one could expect quite a few players to claim a spot in the squads.

On that note, here's how South Africa's past could define their future in Test, ODI and T20I cricket.


Test XI: Simon Harmer, Kyle Abbott big names to consider

Kyle Abbott took 17 wickets in a game for Hampshire earlier this season.
Kyle Abbott took 17 wickets in a game for Hampshire earlier this season.

Test cricket could be the format that South Africa improve the most in following potential Kolpak returns.

Two wicket-keeper batsmen who could potentially return to the South African domestic fold are Kent's Heino Kuhn and Lancashire captain Dane Vilas. While neither player would be likely to play for South Africa in future, there aren't many wicket-keepers jumping out for selection with Rudi Second the deputy to Quinton de Kock at the moment.

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One can assume that a comeback is not outside the realms of possibility for Stiaan van Zyl. The all-rounder, who is currently plying his Kolpak trade for Sussex used to be a regular for South Africa in this format, averaging a respectable 26.33 with an unbeaten hundred in the bank against West Indies on his debut in 2014 at Centurion, also the venue of his last appearance against New Zealand two years later.

As Faf du Plessis is rumoured to be retiring from the Test format fairly soon and will likely no longer be playing ODIs by the time the Kolpak players would return, it is fair to exclude him from the potential Test and ODI teams, although he could possibly play both T20 World Cups in 2020 and 2021.

The bowling is an exciting prospect after the Kolpak window is slammed shut. Duanne Olivier only made his move last year despite being offered a two year contract by South Africa, and took a decent 43 wickets for Yorkshire in the County Championship in 2019 at an average of 32.32. He probably wouldn't walk back into the team but would contend for a place with the fringe pacers.

The pacer all South Africans want back in the test team is Kyle Abbott, who made the switch in 2017 to play for Hampshire, because his County Championship form has been simply irresistible, easily becoming the best pacer plying his trade in the competition. He claimed 71 scalps at a ridiculous average of 15.73 with stunning bests of 9/40 and 17/86, all coming in just 13 matches and 21 innings.

Simon Harmer's declaration of 'being the best off-spinner in the world' has been written about endlessly but he is certainly the best in England. 83 wickets in the 2019 County Championship saw him top the bowling charts with ease, with bests of 8/98 and 12/61 at an average of 18.28 showing why South Africa could do with him back.

The issue, however, is his previous statements about a willingness to represent England if wanted and his untimely signing of the Kolpak deal, which would make a return unpopular. South Africa fans would still likely have him back though, as his skillset make up for his tepid past.

Test XI after returns

Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma (C), Zubayr Hamza, Quinton de Kock (WK), Dwaine Pretorius, Simon Harmer, Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott, Anrich Nortje.

Bench Players: Pieter Malan, Stiaan van Zyl, Keshav Maharaj, Duanne Olivier / Lungi Ngidi.

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Published 08 Feb 2020, 12:08 IST
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