Domestic restructure sees these EIGHT Kolpaks return to SA

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Duanne Olivier (AFP)
Duanne Olivier (AFP)
Anesh DEBIKY / AFP

Cricket South Africa's (CSA) domestic restructure will see several familiar faces return as eight former Kolpak players are set to compete in the provincial competition.

This year's new-look structure will see South African cricket transformed to a 15-team system for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons, from where promotion/relegation will be in force.

Boland and North West are joined by Eastern Province, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal Coastal, Northerns and Western Province in Division 1. 

CSA on Tuesday announced star-studded squads for the eight top-tier provincial teams in Division 1 with all 16 national contracted players included.

Notably, former Proteas stars will return to the SA provincial structure, with eight former Kolpak players selected this season.

As of 1 January 2021, though, all Kolpak players have had their registration cancelled by the England and Wales Cricket Board with immediate effect due to Brexit.

Some players have negotiated to stay on in their respective franchises as a overseas player.

With Kolpak deals gone, players who compete in this year's domestic competitions will be eligible for Proteas selection.

Sport24 takes a look at the former Kolpak stars set to compete later this year:

Duanne Olivier (Central Gauteng Lions)

In early 2019, Olivier stunned the cricketing world when he called a premature halt to his fledging Proteas career by signing a Kolpak contract with Yorkshire. 

Olivier had thrived at his English county and was one of the few South Africans to receive an overseas contract in 2021.

Olivier, who had taken 48 wickets in his 10 Tests, will represent the Central Gauteng Lions this year as he joins the pace-attack power of Lutho Sipamla and Kagiso Rabada.

Last week, Proteas coach Mark Boucher said Olivier has a long way to go to get back into national reckoning.

"There are a lot of things that need to happen for him to be even considered. He has to show form at franchise level. We can't judge him on what he's done overseas and what he's done in the past. He's got to come into our system and perform properly," said Boucher.

Stiaan van Zyl (Boland)

Van Zyl played 12 Tests for the Proteas between 2014 and 2016 before signing a Kolpak deal with Sussex.

The 33-year-old will represent his provincial home Boland in the 2020/21 domestic season.

In last week's Country Championship match in Cardiff, Van Zyl scored 113 to help steer Sussex to an eight-wicket victory against Glamorgan.

Kyle Abbott (Boland)

After playing 11 Tests, 28 ODIs and 21 T20s for his country, Abbott became one of South Africa's most high-profile Kolpak signings when he struck a deal with Hampshire in 2017.

Abbott became the first high-profile Kolpak player to return to domestic cricket when he competed for the Titans in January's One Day Cup.

The 33-year-old is currently in England, playing as an overseas player for Hampshire in the County Championship.

Abbott will then return for this year's provincial tournament as he represents Boland. Earlier this year, Abbott stated that he has no interest in returning to the Proteas fold.

Simon Harmer (Northerns)

Harmer played five Test matches for the Proteas before falling out of favour, which saw him pursue a career in England with Essex in 2016.

The off-spinner has been highly successful for Essex and was instrumental in their two County Championships titles in 2017 and 2019.

Harmer, who remained an overseas player for Essex, returned to South Africa in February for the Titans in the T20 Challenge.

The 32-year-old was selected in a star-studded Northerns team and will have to compete with Tabraiz Shamsi and Aaron Phangiso for the spinner position.

Hardus Viljoen (Boland)

Viljoen played only the one Test for the Proteas in 2016 and then went on to sign a Kolpak contract with Derbyshire later that same year.

The fast bowler hasn't been a stranger to domestic cricket, playing for the Titans last season before the pandemic.

The 32-year-old will bolster Boland's seam attack along with Abbott.

Hashim Amla (Western Province)

Amla retired from all forms of international cricket in 2019 after a glittering 15-year career. He then signed a Kolpak contract with Surrey.

Amla, who scored 9 282 runs at an average of 46.64 in 124 Test matches, will play his first match on South African soil in over two years as he represents Western Province.

The 38-year-old maestro has been a regular for Surrey this 2020/21 season, having competed in the T20 Blast and Country Championship.

Heino Kuhn (North West)

Kuhn played four Tests and 7 T20Is for the Proteas between 2009 and 2017. 

In 2018, the wicketkeeper-batsman signed a Kolpak deal with Kent and has since been with the English county.

Kuhn will join a reasonably inexperienced North West team this year. He will be a part of the senior group, including Proteas all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and Dolphins all-rounder Senuran Muthusamy. 

Wayne Parnell (Western Province)

Parnell last played for South Africa in 2017 and has since been a globetrotter and competing in various T20 leagues.

The Proteas all-rounder brought an end to his international career of 65 ODIs, 40 T20Is and six Tests when he signed a Kolpak contract with Worcestershire in 2018.

Earlier this year, Parnell signed as an overseas player for Northamptonshire for this season.

Parnell, who is currently in the UK for Northants, will represent Western Province later this year.

Notable mentions include former Proteas bowling duo Vernon Philander (Western Province) and Dane Paterson (Eastern Province). They were set to sign a Kolpak deal, which fell through due to Covid-19 and Brexit.

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