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Saturday, March 14, 2015

After that brilliant ton, Brendan Taylor not to play for Zimbabwe again ... what is Kolpak ??

At Eden Park, in Auckland in the North island of New Zealand, a not so familiar drama unfolded.  Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. In Māori, Auckland's name is Tāmaki Makaurau and the transliterated version of Auckland isĀkarana.  Maroš Kolpak was a Slovak handball player, who was legally resident and working in Germany. He had been playing for the German second division handball side TSV Ostringen since 1997. The German Handball Association had a rule (Rule 15) which prohibited its member clubs from fielding more than two non-EU citizens. At that time, Slovakia was not yet a member of the European Union (it joined the EU in May 2004), and therefore the Bosman ruling did not apply to its citizens. Slovakia did however have an Association Agreement with the European Union. Kolpak was ejected by his club in 2000 as they had filled their quota of two non-EU players.

Zimbabwe batted first and after 38 overs were 183/4.  Brendan Taylor was on 93 off 96 balls – Ashwin had been mauled 9-0-73-1 at that stage.  39th over was by Mohammed Shami – 2,0 – 3rd ball a short ball guided over 3rd man for a six – and what a way to reach another century.  The last ball too disappeared over midoff for a six.  Zimb reached 200. 

There have been retirements of top players – some went over the hill and people started asking why still – very retired at peak.  Taylor turned 29 last month. He is at the peak of his quite considerable batting prowess. He has already played 11 years for his country.  It might be sad to read that he has played his last match for Zimbabwe !!!! yes, this Group B match is the last match for wicketkeeper-batsman  Brendan Taylor who  has signed a three-year Kolpak deal with Nottinghamshire, subject to ECB approval  !!!!! 
Photo credit : bcci.tv

Brendan Ross Murray Taylor has played 23 tests made 1493 runs and in 166 One dayers made 5258 runs including 8 centuries.   In the present edition, Taylor  has made  408 runs, which puts him in third place on the runs-scorer list, and needs just 10 more to go into second place. The 41st over of Jadeja was a nightmare for the bowler as Taylor tore him apart for (1)-4-4-6-4-6; Sir Jadeja will remember him for ever…… but why would he not play for Zimbabwe again and what is a ‘Kolpak’ player ?? Faf du Plessis was once a Kolpak player? Andy and Grant Flower too held similar status !

A player becomes eligible to sign for a county under the Kolpak deal only after he gives up his right to play for his country. According to rules, a Kolpak player must not have represented his country in the past 12 months and during the period of his contract with a county, he will not be eligible to represent his country.  There are broadly two categories of Kolpak players. Quite a few aged cricketers, who are out of reckoning when it comes to national selection, turn to playing domestic cricket in England mainly for financial gains and love for the game. The other category is a young cricketer, who decides to head in the direction of an EU nation in hopes of pursing his career. Even players in their prime have taken the Kolpak path, sometimes to re-establish themselves on the cricketing scene, sometimes due to disputes with their boards, while for some, county cricket is a good career option in comparison to national duty.

The Kolpak ruling is a European Court of Justice ruling handed down on 8 May 2003 in favour of Maroš Kolpak, a Slovak handball player. It declared that citizens of countries which have signed European Union Association Agreements have the same right to freedom of work and movement within the EU as EU citizens. Thus any restrictions placed on their right to work (such as quotas setting maximum numbers of such foreign players in sports teams) are deemed illegal under EU law. The legal actions in Germany set a precedent for professional sports in Europe, which have had a wide-ranging effect, especially in regard to English county cricket and European professional rugby.

The Court of Justice's Bosman ruling in 1995 had declared that, in accordance with the EC Treaty rules regarding freedom of movement for workers, no resident of the European Union should be restricted from working in another part of the EU on the grounds of their nationality. For example, a German football team could not be prevented from signing a Greek player since both nations are members of the EU.

Maroš Kolpak was a Slovak handball player, who was legally resident and working in Germany. The German Handball Association held that equality of treatment applied only to citizens of European Union countries (as per the Bosman Ruling) and not to non-EU citizens. The case was referred by the German higher court to the European Court of Justice, for a determination on whether the Association Agreement between Slovakia and the European Union provided equal rights for Slovak workers who were living and working legally within the EU. The Court ruled in favour of Kolpak.  Thus the Kolpak Ruling declares that citizens of countries which have applicable Association Agreements with the EU, and who are lawfully working within an EU country, have equal rights to work as EU citizens, and cannot have restrictions such as quotas placed upon them. Such countries include those within the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states, such as South Africa, Jamaica and Zimbabwe.

So, Brendan Taylor is a Kolpak player, ineligible to play for Zimbabwe after such a fine show ……….. and might sometime show up for England.  Strange are the ways of people, nay Nations.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

14th Mar 2015.

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