South African fast bowler Kyle Abbott termed the end of Kolpak era in England as a massive boost for his country. Abbott said it will help South Africa keep their best players to themselves and revive their dwindling fortunes in international cricket.
The Kolpak route helped multiple South African cricketers sign lucrative deals with county clubs in the UK without being counted as overseas participants. But it also automatically disqualified them from representing their national team.
The Kolpak loophole ended on January 1, 2021, with the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. The previous system gave anyone with a work permit from a country which has an associate trading agreement with the EU, the rights accorded to an EU worker.
South African cricketers were the major beneficiaries of the now-disbanded route as they put an end to their international careers to serve as players in English domestic game.
Kyle Abbott Resigns With South Africa’s Titans Franchise for 2020-21 season
Abbott went the same path back in 2017 when he signed with Hampshire as a Kolpak player despite being a regular at the time in all formats for South Africa. The 33-year-old became a leading performer in English county game but has now rejoined the domestic set-up in his country, signing with Titans franchise for the rest of the 2020-21 season.
“With Kolpak gone it has closed the door for a lot of guys. That can only be good for South African cricket to keep the players here. The more experience and less watered down the (domestic) system the better,” Abbott told reporters on Thursday.
“People don’t realise it was never an easy decision for any of us (Kolpak players). You catch a lot of flak from crowds. As much as South Africans didn’t want to see us go, the English crowds didn’t want to see us there.”
“But at the end of the day, it was purely a career decision and I don’t regret anything I did.”
Kyle Abbott Now Eligible To Play For South Africa Again
Abbott will remain with Hampshire for the next two seasons at least. However, he can play for the club only as an overseas professional now. The right-arm quick is eligible to represent South Africa again.
“At the moment that is not in my immediate view. I had a very tough 2020 (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), where I bowled about five overs of competitive cricket. So at the moment I just need to get back to the space I was (in) 18 months ago,” said Abbott.
Abbott played 11 Tests, 28 ODIs and 21 T20Is for South Africa before becoming a Kolpak player with Hampshire.