Vaughan joins in as Kolpak debate rages
On Wednesday, Michael Vaughan waded into the debate. "I'm slightly concerned about it," he admitted. "There are a number which have obviously taken over a couple of the teams. Looking around the whole circuit, there seem to be a few who aren't doing that and that's my biggest concern.
"If they're coming in and improving the standard, playing in the right fashion and training in the right fashion then it can only be a good thing but if they're coming in and not doing that then that's not so good. The one thing it does do is make sure you have to be good to get into that XI. If they are quality then it's fine because they add to the standard, but if they're not quality it's like anything they're not going to add to the standard."
And yesterday Mark Pettini, Essex's captain, told Cricinfo it was a "nice feeling" to beat a Kolpak-heavy Leicestershire in the FP Trophy quarter-finals.
"It was a shame for me to see Leicestershire fielding only four English-qualified players against us - it appears their emphasis is not on bringing through young English players," he said. "They had a couple of decent young English batsmen in their squad last year in John Maunders and John Sadler but they've since left the club, to be replaced by non-qualified players. At Essex we do put the emphasis on bringing through our English-qualified players."
Leicestershire's chief executive David Smith immediately hit back. "Was it not Graham Gooch and the mighty Essex who signed the two Kolpak Flower brothers Grant and Andy and then played them in their side along with two overseas players in Championship cricket? While their younger players were developing, that means they only had seven players on the field qualified to play for England during that period of time.
"Essex are certainly much further advanced in their development programme than we are, but we do care about producing young English-qualified cricketers. Our development programme is in its infancy and we will be judged on my aim to have produced five players from our Academy playing regular first-class cricket for the club over the next four seasons.
"Essex had two Kolpaks in their squad yesterday, Grant Flower and Ryan ten Doeschate, along with Danish Kaneria as an overseas player," said Smith. In fact, ten Doeschate is not a Kolpak player, neither is Andy Flower.
"I have a lot of respect for Essex as a club and their youth development programme, and their emphasis on bringing on young qualified England cricketers, but I would also point out that they have taken [Jason] Gallian from Nottinghamshire, [James] Middlebrook from Yorkshire, [David] Masters from Leicestershire, and [Alex] Tudor from Surrey to help balance the young and old and they are not all home-grown."
On the subject of Sadler and Maunders, the two England-qualified players that Pettini mentioned, Smith was equally forthright. Sadler joined Derbyshire where, in Smith's opinion, "he has hardly set the world alight", while Maunders was released last season because he was "not good enough", and replaced by a 22-year Englishman, Matt Boyce, who has been with the county since the age of 11.
"I would also point out," said Smith, "that Leicestershire have recently produced what I would consider to be the best allround Test cricketer for England since Flintoff in Stuart Broad only to lose him to a Test-match county [Nottinghamshire] who could offer him more money."
Pettini's comments come three days after Ashley Giles, Warwickshire's director of cricket and England selector, described the Kolpak situation as "serious" and called on the counties to take responsibility.
The arguments will continue, but the ECB, which is powerless to act because of the current European Union legislation, is hopeful that the situation might be about to change.
It is believed that the EU may rule that the Cotonou Treaty, which provides the Kolpak loophole, should no longer entitle migrant workers from the countries affected to freedom of movement within the Community. While those on existing contracts will not be affected, the flood of players, mainly from South Africa, could as a result become a trickle.