Here are two current South African teams, Team A and Team B (for want of originality):
- Team A: Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada & Imran Tahir.
- Team B: Heino Kuhn, Stiaan van Zyl, Colin Ingram, Rilee Rossouw, Dane Vilas, Wayne Parnell, David Wiese, Simon Harmer, Kyle Abbott, Marchant de Lange & Duanne Olivier.
In a head to head clash, on which team would you put your money? On current form, none of Team A’s batsmen is to be feared. They do have a decent bowling attack though. Team B’s tail is a little long (so you could also consider Colin Ackermann or Richard Levi), but they have a great bowling line-up. I would bet on Team B.
By now you’ve probably figured out that Team A is the Proteas team that played in its second last Cricket World Cup (CWC) match against Sri Lanka on 28 June. Team B is made of current Kolpak players, seven of whom played county cricket two days later.
Now, pick any combination of Team A and Team B, and see how that team squares up against team A. Whatever team you pick, it will be better than Team A a.k.a. the Proteas.
South African cricketers turn Kolpak players for many different reasons. But you can bet your bottom dollar that a large portion of Team B would rather have been at Chester-le-Street on the 28th than being county trundlers at places like Scarborough or Sedbergh two days later.
A lot has been (and will still be) written about the Proteas’ ignominious exit from the 2019 CWC. The truth is, though, that with the players at the selectors’ disposal when the team was picked, a significantly stronger team could not have been picked. Certainly not one that you would have bet life savings on would reach the semi-finals.
But what if the players from Team B were also available for selection..?
The Kolpak talent drain has hurt South African cricket big time. Nowhere has it been more clearly illustrated than at the 2019 CWC. Cricket South Africa has to find a way to stop this bleeding. If not, the current crisis (and it is a crisis) could get worse.