STAR Warriors batsman Colin Ackermann has become the latest South African cricketer to sign a Kolpak deal to play in England. Ackermann, who was the leading run-scorer in the recently completed Sunfoil Series, has landed a winter gig with Leicestershire which kicks in at the conclusion of the South African summer.
He will play on a Dutch passport, which, if he wanted to choose that route, could also open the door to him playing for the Netherlands in future.
Ackermann says he will return to play for the Warriors next season, but has forgone his rights to play for South Africa by virtue of him signing the Kolpak agreement.
He joins the likes of Kyle Abbott‚ Rilee Rossouw‚ Simon Harmer‚ Stiaan van Zyl, Hardus Viljoen, Colin Ingram, Dane Vilas and David Wiese, who have all recently secured Kolpak deals.
The 25-year-old had been earmarked for honours and probably more so after a Sunfoil Series season during which he scored 883 runs, including three hundreds. But as many have found out, it is tough to crack the South African team’s ranks.
“At the point of me signing, I didn’t really see myself in the South African team so I decided to look after my own game for the next couple of years,” Ackermann said yesterday.
“For me, it was just a fantastic opportunity. Most cricketers would jump at the opportunity to play county cricket.
“I want to grow my game overseas and play in different conditions and hopefully come back and keep doing it for the Warriors over here.”
Ackermann, like others have done before him, has not ruled out making himself available to play for South Africa in the future.
“Possibly, I don’t like to look too far ahead. I like to look at it one year or six months at a time.
“I must still focus on the One-Day Cup here in South Africa.
“I still want to contribute and win games for the Warriors before I even get overseas and then we’ll assess in a couple of years time,” he said before a Warriors training session at St George’s Park yesterday.
Ackermann said the deal was brokered by his agent, Phil Weston, who is based in the UK.
It also helped that the coach of the Foxes is former Titans player Pierre de Bruyn.
The Warriors now have three players on Kolpak deals and that may become an issue if Cricket South Africa decide to follow up on a suggestion that they could limit the number of Kolpak players in domestic franchise cricket.
Ackermann’s white ball captain at the Warriors, Jon-Jon Smuts, said he understood why players took the Kolpak route.
“It’s a difficult one. South African cricket is in a very good space at the moment, so it’s not easy to get into the side,” he said. “If you look at myself, if South Africa had played their full-strength side against Sri Lanka I would probably have struggled to get into that squad. And that’s after a lot of good performances domestically.
“In the past, the likes of Faf du Plessis and Paul Harris played Kolpak and they used that to kind of get back into the national side.
“I can’t have too much of a personal opinion on it because it is their decision.
“I don’t know what their final decision was in signing for that. But cricket has a short working time. We don’t have 50 years in the job. It’s only a couple of years,” Smuts said.
The Warriors open their Momentum One-Day Cup campaign against the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday.