Cricket’s magic words – ‘Kolpak Time’

IF cricket’s your game you’ll surely remember the names – the incomparable Don Bradman, Len Hutton, dashing Denis Compton; then, going closer to home, the likes of Dudley Nourse, Eric Rowan and others – all of them belonging to the list of magical performers on the game’s international stage going right back to the inimitable WG Grace. Higher than that you can’t go!

If you love cricket you will at least have heard of them; read of their many exploits on the field of play with bat or ball, or both! Besides cricket skill what else do they have in common? Yes, that’s it – they all belong to the past, some of it very distant now. Yes, “time marches on,” as they say – which present day lovers of the game ought to try to remember.

Yes, that’s what concerns us today: heavy criticism circulating the very blood of the game; criticism that some present day stars – in particular two outstanding Proteas in Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw, who have opted to continue their careers with the English County Championship side, Hampshire, much to the disgust of South African coach, Russell Domingo.

The coach last week launched a blistering attack on both players, outstanding fast bowler Abbott and batsman Rossouw. The signing of the two effectively ends their careers with South African cricket. In turn Cricket SA has wasted no time in cancelling both their contracts.

Reacting to the move by the two South Africans, coach Domingo wasted no time in slamming both, holding nothing back as last week ended with the Proteas taking a 2-0 lead in the trouncing of Sri Lanka at Newlands in their four-match series.

Domingo had so faithfully encouraged 27-year-old Rossouw since he made his international debut at just 23 in 2014, shielding the youngster after the left-hander started his ODI career with four ducks in his first six matches. The coach’s disappointment was understandable. It seemed at times he was fighting a lone battle to keep the youngster in the Test match loop.

Bitterly upset, he now says: “Yes, very disappointed. That’s the truth. He toured Australia as the back-up Test batsman. He’s the guy we backed after four ducks. We invested in him massively. If he was a player of colour everyone would have slammed us, would have said, ‘transformation’.”

The coach’s disappointment included Abbott. There’s no doubt both players would have been an integral part of SA’s plans. Its cricket chief, Haroon Lorgat, admitted to “disappointment” at the turn of events. He added: “No one is guaranteed a place to play for his country, but he had as good a chance as any other player to win top honours.”

But... there’s one thing Domingo and his boss seem to be missing here. Yes, in the old days when money was not an issue, when all that counted was the honour of representing your country, none of this would have mattered. But times have changed. Unless you’re born with a golden spoon in the mouth, money counts.

A financial chance such as that going the way of Abbott and Rossouw doesn’t present itself every day. And there’s no shame, surely, in looking after one’s own interests first. Unhappily, that isn’t today’s norm. These days it’s “Kolpak Time” – every man for himself!

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