There is one word that is used quite a bit in South African cricket and that is ‘Kolpak’. Over the years, the Kolpak has been a major hindrance in South Africa’s progress as a cricketing nation. With players signing lucrative contracts with counties in England, the Proteas have lost multiple players with the Kolpak rule.
There were quite a few reasons why players took the Kolpak route. Be it money, secure future, more opportunities or whatever. South Africa were the worst-hit nations with the Kolpak rule. However, the UK have opted out of the European Union (EU) which basically marks an end to the Kolpak rule. Thus, South Africa will be among the happiest nations. Now, players like Kyle Abbott, Rilee Rossouw, Colin Ingram, Wayne Parnell, Duanne Olivier, Simon Harmer, Simon Harmer, Dane Vilas and a few others will head back to South Africa.
Most of these players have been performing really well. A special mention needs to be given to Kyle Abbott who has picked up 182 wickets across the last three County Championship seasons. Dane Vilas has been piling on the runs for Lancashire and has even led them well. His return could well put him in the captaincy mix of the South African Test team. The likes of Wayne Parnell, Rilee Rossouw and Colin Ingram are gun white-ball players and will add a different dimension to the ODI and T20I teams. The return of the other players who’ve played international cricket for South Africa like Simon Harmer, Heino Kuhn, Hardus Viljoen and Stiaan van Zyl among others will strengthen the domestic circuit and keep them in the mix for the national team as well.
The director of cricket South Africa Graeme Smith has mentioned that he’s happy to have welcome the Kolpak players back. Hence, it looks like the XIs that South Africa currently play might undergo an overhaul with the return of the players who took the Kolpak route. The Proteas might well be spoilt for choice in terms of choosing the XI and even the squad of 15 or 16.
So, here is how South Africa’s XI might look like across formats once all players are fit and available for selection.
Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, Dane Vilas, Quinton de Kock (wk), Kyle Abbott, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi/Anrich Nortje
Quinton de Kock (c & wk), Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, Rilee Rossouw/Henrich Klaasen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kyle Abbott/Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi
Quinton de Kock (c & wk), Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Henrich Klassen, Rilee Rossouw, David Miller, Chris Morris/Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn/Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir/Tabraiz Shamsi