SA's Kolpak XI: Would they beat Proteas?
Cape Town - For South Africans, it is always a difficult blow whenever a promising young Proteas star abandons his international career for greener pastures up north.
Duanne Olivier was the latest to drop that bombshell, announcing on Tuesday that he had signed for Yorkshire on a three-year Kolpak deal that effectively ends his contribution to the Proteas.
Olivier leaves with just 10 Test matches and two ODIs to his name at a time when his career was starting to take off in a big way.
He has become a key member of the Proteas pace attack in the longest format, with his 24 wickets in the Pakistan series one of the most dominant displays of fast bowling this country has ever seen.
It all seems a bit irrelevant now, though, and like it or not the Proteas will have to plan for life without their most naturally aggressive bowler.
Olivier adds his name to a long list of South Africans to have signed Kolpak deals since spinner Claude Henderson all the way back in 2004.
With the Proteas Test side having just gone down 2-0 to Sri Lanka on their own turf, we thought this would be a good time to think about how they might fare against a South African Kolpak XI.
Here, Lloyd Burnard selects his own side of current South African Kolpak players, and it looks like it would have enough quality to compete with most Test sides in world cricket.
1. Heino Kuhn (Kent) - The 33-year-old has opened the batting for the Proteas in four Test matches but was told after the tour of England in 2017 that he was unlikely to play again. That opened the door for a move up north and he has had consistent success in the County Championship 2nd division since. Kuhn's quality has never been in doubt, but he was unable to grab the one chance he was given in Proteas colours.
2. Richard Levi (Northants) - Considered a white ball specialist, Levi is a key member of the Northants side in all formats. He has been on the Kolpak train since 2014 and while he may not have been the greatest loss to South African cricket at the time, he still has the experience and proven ability to be selected here.
3. Colin Ackermann (Leicestershire) - Ackermann is a class act and had made a bucket load of runs in the Sunfoil Series before signing his Kolpak deal in 2016. A Test future looked almost certain for him before he left. A former SA U-19 player, Ackermann still returns home for the South African summer to play for the Warriors.
4. Stiaan van Zyl (Sussex) - Injury meant that Van Zyl's role in the County Championship in 2018 was severely limited, but he remains one of those that got away for the Proteas. Van Zyl left after 12 Tests with a modest average of just 26.33, but he was forced to open the batting and never looked comfortable there. His technique and appetite for big scores has been a hallmark of his game for many years, and he walks into this starting XI.
5. Rilee Rossouw (Hampshire) - Undoubtedly one of the biggest losses to South African cricket, the hard-hitting left-hander was on the verge of a Test debut when he signed with Hampshire. He is lethal in all three formats and would be welcomed into most Test sides in world cricket currently.
6. Dane Vilas (Lancashire, w/k) - Vilas was in the unfortunate position of having to compete with Quinton de Kock for a place in the Proteas side, but he did leave with six Test matches to his name. Also very capable of changing gears depending on the format and match situation, he is an accomplished batsman while his wicketkeeping has always been world class.
7. David Wiese (Sussex) - You could easily go with Wayne Parnell (Worcestershire) for the allrounder role, but I like the batting depth that comes with backing Wiese. He averages 33.68 with the bat in first-class cricket and 27.33 with the ball, and he has been in the runs and wickets for Sussex in the four-day game.
8. Simon Harmer (Essex) - Harmer has been the most destructive spinner on the English circuit over the past couple of seasons claiming 72 and 57 first-class wickets in 2017 and 2018, respectively. His numbers have been staggering, and they have not always come on wickets that are conducive to spin bowling.
9. Kyle Abbott (Hampshire) - The seam bowling department is what makes this Kolpak XI really strong. Abbott announced his decision to leave South Africa at a famous Newlands press conference during a Test against Sri Lanka in 2017. He played 11 Tests, 28 ODIs and 21 T20Is for his country.
10. Morne Morkel (Surrey) - Morkel's departure was the way we would like these things to go. He did not abandon South Africa, but retired at the end of what had already been a long and successful international career. He is one of the best fast bowlers South Africa has produced and is very much at home on the County circuit.
11. Duanne Olivier (Yorkshire) - The latest, but certainly not the last. With Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn all in the mix, Olivier had no guarantees over his Test future and announced the call to leave this week.
NOTE: Colin Ingram (Glamorgan) was not considered for this side because he no longer plays four-day cricket ...