Lions confused over Franchise playing conditions?

Good news! Common sense has prevailed in the three-way stand-off between Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Warwickshire and the Highveld Lions which was the subject of the last column in this space.

Warwickshire released a statement earlier this week conforming that they had released the left handed batsman from his Kolpak contract after reaching agreement with the player and the Lions on payment of a compensation package. Details of that package have not been forthcoming but, presumably, the player has been asked to reimburse at least some of the money Warwickshire paid him. Perhaps the Lions lent him the cash and will deduct it from his monthly salary.

Whatever. The talented Van Jaarsveld is free to continue his first-class career although he will earn a lot less money than he would have done playing in England. So, now that he is no longer a Kolpak player, he can play for the Lions.

First of all, here’s the statement from Warwickshire: “WCCC have today confirmed that they agreed to release Vaughn van Jaarsveld from his recently agreed 2 year contract.

“We are disappointed by the way Vaughn has conducted himself but once he returned to South Africa for the winter he clearly had a change of heart over his long term plans. He will be missing out on a fantastic opportunity here with Warwickshire but we only want players who are fully committed to the Bears’ cause. Having agreed the appropriate compensation with Vaughn and Guateng Cricket we will now move on,” said chief executive Colin Povey.

According to Cricket South Africa’s own Administrative playing conditions for the first-class Supersport Series, each Franchise can contract no more than two players who are ineligible to play for South Africa. Once again, for the sake of clarity, here is the relevant clause:

3.3.2     A Franchise may contract a maximum of two (2) Overseas Cricketers but a maximum of one (1) Foreign Overseas Cricketer in a Year.

Interestingly, the Lions are playing the current round of the Supersport Series with an XI which includes Claude Henderson (who was the pioneer of cricket’s ‘Kolpakers’ when he signed for Leicestershire back in 2004, Friedel de Wet and Garnett Kruger.

According to CSA director of playing affairs, Brian Basson, Lions chief executive Alan Kourie offered him an assurance that the Lions did, in fact, have only one Kolpak player in their line-up. There would, therefore, appear to be some confusion. Have a look at the following news items which were published recently.

First, a press release from Leicestershire: “LEICESTERSHIRE today announced that South African batsman Boeta Dippenaar has joined the Club as their overseas player for the next two seasons . . . and have confirmed that fellow countryman Garnett Kruger will be joining him at Grace Road.

“…Kruger has signed a two year contract to return to Leicestershire as a Kolpak registration after impressing last summer.  ‘Boeta will add energy and much-needed experience to the batting line-up with the added option of moving him up the order in the one-day game, commented (cricket director) Tim Boon in announcing the signings.

“Kruger is fit and strong, and still has his best cricket years ahead of him, given his age and the fact that he has not been over bowled. It is important that we have an experienced senior strike bowler capable of bowling hostile spells to place the opposition on the back foot.”
“Garnett showed his worth in his stint with the county in 2007 and has started well with the Lions in South Africa.”
There doesn’t seem much doubt in Boon’s mind that Kruger is a Kolpak player and therefore, technically, ineligible for selection by the Proteas.

What about De Wet? Once again, a press release from Middlesex County Cricket Club makes for interesting reading: “Middlesex CCC are delighted to announce the signing of Friedel de Wet for the 2008 season. The signing at this stage is subject to clearance from the United Cricket Board of South Africa and securing a UK work permit,” the statement said.

“Friedel is a 27 year old fast bowler who was the leading wicket taker in the 2006/7 South African domestic series.”

So what, you may ask. Well, first of all – what’s the point in having regulations, agreed to by all parties, if they are to be ignored? And secondly, the reason for introducing that regulation was to ensure that promising, potential internationals were given first-class experience instead of Franchises adopting a short-term view by trying to win trophies with whatever team they could lay their hands on.

Surely this is just an oversight or a misunderstanding. If regulation 3.3.2 needs to be amended, or scrapped, then it needs to be done immediately. We wouldn’t want to be in a situation where the Lions administration is required to face a CSA disciplinary committee who would have the power to impose a fine or, heaven forbid, dock them points.

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