Britain’s Brexit will be a boon to ailing South Africa as they rebuild, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis said on Tuesday after his side’s series drubbing by India.
Any tougher immigration controls after the British withdrawal from the European Union will mean fewer South African players in the County Championship, according to du Plessis.
More than 60 players from countries around the world have since 2003 taken advantage of EU residency rules so that they could join county teams without being considered “overseas players” but the rules of the so-called Kolpak accord meant they could not play for their home countries.
Under current plans, if Britain pulls out of the EU, the Kolpak system for cricketers would end by 2021.
Du Plessis, who has himself played in England under the system, highlighted the case of off-spinner Simon Harmer who has starred for Essex over the past two years but has not appeared for South Africa since 2015.
“It’s sad for South African cricket not to have the option of their best players,” du Plessis told reporters after his side’s innings and 202 runs defeat by India in the third Test. “Simon Harmer has had an unbelievable season and it would be great for South Africa to be in a position where they could go (for tours). He’s done well overseas. Let’s bring him on tour with us. So maybe, post-Brexit, guys will still go and play there (in England), but you can still pick them for your country.”
The absence of county players and retirement of top stars such as Hashim Amla and fast bowler Dale Steyn have left du Plessis with an inexperienced side, highlighted by the defeats in India.
The skipper said that South Africa’s domestic cricket also misses the likes of Hamla when they choose to play in England.
“You lose all of that experience, which would have helped the young guys so much,” he said. “Playing with Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers is the greatest learning curve that you can get.”
Du Plessis insisted though that South Africa will build a strong new team with the batting of Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock showing promise.
“It’s a rebuilding phase, so the way forward when you go through real, tough times like this, is you start identifying characters,” said du Plessis.
Du Plessis praised the India’s fast bowlers Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami, who took 10 wickets between them in the match.
India captain Virat Kohli also highlighted their lead role.
The duo battered the opposition with their lively pace and barrage of bouncers to pack the tourists twice on 162 and 133 in response to India’s 497-9 declared.
Kohli said the pair are forming one of India’s most formidable pace attacks ever and the team’s performance in the series was one of their very best.
“These guys are relentless, they are running in to take wickets and bowl in areas that make the batsmen uncomfortable, he said. “If the fast bowlers believe they can make something happen, even if there is nothing in the match, they really can make it happen. So it’s all about the positive mindset. We have good series in the past as well but I would say this is at par with the most balanced performances we have had.”