The sudden slam of the door as Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw walked away from the Proteas dressing room probably owes as much to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union as it does to the special challenges inherent in playing South African sport at international level.
Abbott and Rossouw turned their backs on the Proteas this week to sign four-year Kolpak contracts with English county Hampshire, a move that, while tacitly accepted as having been fait accompli recently, left Proteas head coach Russell Domingo fuming.
At the heart of the issue, though, is that new Kolpak contracts – named after an obscure Slovak handball player and based on signed trade agreements with the EU – will very likely disappear once Brexit becomes a reality and Britain goes it alone, though contracts signed prior to this would be binding.
It was a case of take what is on the table while it was available or face the prospect of missing out altogether. With Abbott turning 30 in June and Rossouw 28 in October, that was not a chance either man could turn up – and let’s face it, both have been regarded as fringe players by the Proteas hierarchy.
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Perhaps that same national brains trust have some justification in complaining that they weren’t able to make a counterbid and that the players in the middle of it – especially Rossouw in the light of his serial injuries in the past year – had been well looked after by Cricket SA.
But the counterargument can be advanced that surely as contracted employees, both Abbott and Rossouw would have expected no other type of consideration from any other commercial establishment. Neither should they be unduly criticised for opting to switch to another employer in the knowledge that nothing lasts forever.