Rudolph to play for Yorkshire under Kolpak
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has approved, though "reluctantly", the signing of Jacques Rudolph by Yorkshire under the Kolpak agreement.
When Yorkshire approached Rudolph in January with a three-year contract he decided to give up playing for South Africa so that he wouldn't need to qualify as an overseas player for the county.
Under the Kolpak ruling a player from any nation sharing an associate trading relationship with the European Union is free to play as a professional within the EU. Since the ECB allows only two overseas players for each county, this ruling enables the counties to circumvent the limitation and hire professionals from outside England, especially from South Africa.
However, ECB regulations state that to qualify for Kolpak status a player should not have played international cricket over the previous 12 months. Rudolph last played for South Africa in August 2006, when South Africa toured Sri Lanka.
Though the board admitted that under European law they could not prevent Rudolph from playing for Yorkshire they condemned such type of applications. "[The board] are concerned that the registration of players under the Kolpak ruling may not be in the best interests of cricket in England and Wales generally."
Stewart Regan, the Yorkshire chief executive, said that Rudolph's signing meant that the county had a strong squad for the 2007 season. "We understand the ECB's concern about the signing of Jacques on a Kolpak agreement and have confirmed to them that the decision to sign him was not taken lightly," Regan said.
He said that during Christmas last year they found themselves going into the next season without their top three batsmen of 2006 who had, between them, scored more than half of the county's runs.
"Unfortunately, circumstances in December meant we had to look overseas for a Kolpak player," Regan said. "We have reminded the ECB that we are not the first club to sign a Kolpak player and we will certainly not be the last. Jacques has committed himself to Yorkshire for three years at the prime of his career and is bringing his wife, who is a doctor. They intend to start a new life and are very excited at the prospect. In signing a sworn affidavit, Jacques has given his word that he is serious about his commitment."
Rudolph himself said he was glad that the long wait was over and that he could finally make plans to move to Yorkshire. "I cannot wait to join my new team-mates and start my Yorkshire career. I have been keeping up to date with developments at the club and it is certainly looking good for 2007."