Grant Flower, Brendan Taylor, Ravi Rampaul, Morne Morkel, Kyle Abbott, Rilee Rossouw…can you guess the common point among the above-mentioned names?... Well apart from being cricketers’ who have represented their respective international sides, they have one more thing in common….well, each one of them has signed the Kolpak deal and played county cricket in England.
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Now, if you think why are we talking about them? Because we have every reason to talk about them, not these players in particular but the Kolpak Agreement in general. So, for people who know what a Kolpak deal is, please bear with us for the next few lines, and for people who have no idea about it, you have to know about Maros Kolpak. Now Mr Kolpak was a Slovak handball player, in 2003 he was discharged by his then German handball team because they have exhausted their quota of non-European Union players. You have to remember that Slovakia was not an EU member in 2003 (it was awarded the status in 2004) and it made Mr Kolpak a non-EU player and hence was discharged from his team. But, Mr Kolpak didn’t let it be, he challenged this decision of his team in the European Court of Justice, arguing his country has an “Association Agreement with EU”. After deliberations, ECJ ruled in the favour of Mr Kolpak and stated that citizens of countries which have signed European union association agreements have the same right to work as any citizen from the European Union. Now, this judgement had many implications on county cricket in England, talk about the butterfly effect!
Now, enough of the gyaan! You ask why are we saying all this? Because this all will change now since the United Kingdom is leaving the EU. Yup, you heard it right Brexit is going to change the face of county cricket in England. Since, the UK is leaving the EU no agreements signed with EU will be applicable to the UK, making Kolpak deal null and void. This is a setback for players from Zimbabwe and South Africa as most of them sign Kolpak deals due to strict selection policies in their respective countries and also for stable and higher income. For example, the South African cricket team can have only 5 white-skinned players in the final XI, these kinds of regulations encouraged players to sign the deal.
So, from 2021 players from other regions will be treated as non-EU players, the Professional Cricketers’ Association said it would back the decision to play 2 overseas players (it is capped at 1 for counties). This deal will help South African the most, as per reports 44 cricketers’ from SA have been part of this deal and abolishment of this deal will stop the cricket brain drain from the Proteas. So, what do you make of it?!