Biff on Kolpaks: We want them back but it's their decision

Simon Harmer (Getty Images)
Simon Harmer (Getty Images)

Former Proteas skipper Graeme Smith revealed that Cricket South Africa (CSA) would welcome back Kolpak players following Brexit's effect on cricket in England.

England's decision to leave the European Union will reportedly nullify Kolpak deals beyond December 2020.

This could see English county sides only signing two overseas players in all domestic formats.

There are several South Africans under the Kolpak rule that will once again become eligible for international selection, including Kyle Abbott, Simon Harmer, Rilee Rossouw and Colin Ingram.

"With Kolpak coming to an end, the willingness is to always have our best players back in the system," said Smith, who was on Friday confirmed as CSA full-time Director of Cricket.

"It's been a complex issue for a number of years and we have a number of committees. Board resolutions on the Kolpak issue need to be debated and looked at."

Former Proteas spinner Harmer admitted last week that there was still "a lot of bad blood" between South African Kolpak players and CSA.

"It would take I think, South Africans and perhaps Cricket South Africa to swallow their pride and seek for those players to return to the South African set-up," Harmer told ESPNCricinfo.

However, Smith stated on Friday that it's the players decision to come back into the system and that CSA will keep an open mind in order to keep them at home.

"It's really up to them players to back into the system and to make a decision on their career," said Smith, who played 117 Tests and 197 ODIs for the Proteas.

"From my perspective, we want to encourage our best players to play here both domestically and give themselves the opportunity to be selected for the national side.

"We don't want to ever exclude players, who want to be a part of our system. We understand the landscape is different to what it has been years ago," he continued.

"Keeping an open mind is going to be key to how we keep our best players, how we keep them motivated and keep them in our game."

Players became eligible for a Kolpak deal provided they stopped playing international cricket, thus becoming non-overseas signings.

- Compiled by Lynn Butler

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