The Brexiteers in Britain have found an unlikely supporter for their cause – Faf du Plessis, captain of South African cricket team. But, he is not talking about the benefits that are supposedly going to accrue to England. Instead, he described how it would help the South African team! Yes, you heard that right, du Plessis thinks Brexit would greatly benefit the Proteas cricket side.
What has happened?
Let's first explain to you how Great Britain being part of European Union (EU) has adversely affected the South African team. Because of EU rules, a person belonging to any country of the union can work in any other EU country without going through the cumbersome processes that people from other nations have to endure.
Now European Union has entered into a free-trade agreement with South Africa. The 'Kolpak rule,' which came into existence due to a court ruling in favour of a handball player called Maros Kolpak, ensures that even people from countries who have free-trade agreements with EU can also work in countries of the union without being deemed as foreigners.
South Africa does have a free-trade agreement with EU, so cricketers from there can play for English county teams without being considered foreigners. However, that player has to stop representing his home country in international cricket. It is this rule which has led to players such as Kyle Abbot leaving South Africa and playing in the county circuit.
How Brexit will help South Africa?
With Britain out of EU, the Kolpak rule will no longer apply to England. So, South Africa will not continue to lose players to county cricket which offers greater financial rewards for them. The reason why this issue has come up right now is due to the absence of off-spinner Simon Harmer from South Africa's Test team.
Proteas' spin attack was horribly exposed on this tour. Harmer, who is a very capable spinner, left South African team through the Kolpak route to ply his trade in England. In the latest season of county cricket, he was awarded the County Championship Player of the Year award.
"It's sad for South African cricket not to have the option of their best players. Simon Harmer has had an unbelievable season. And it would be great for South Africa to be in a position where they could go (play for South Africa). He's done well overseas. Let's bring him on tour with us. So maybe, post-Brexit, guys will still go and play there (England), but you can still pick them for your country," du Plessis said at post-match press-conference.
There is no certainty that Harmer would have been able to stop the Indian onslaught. But perhaps he may have provided that little bit of extra support which his team needed.