Jason Holder calls for minimum wage to halt Kolpak exodus
West Indies captain says more must be done to keep players in the international game
Jason Holder has called upon the ICC and the Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) to ensure a "substantial minimum salary" for international cricketers.
Speaking in the aftermath of Duanne Olivier's decision to sign a Kolpak deal with Yorkshire, effectively ending his international career, Holder revealed he had held discussions with FICA on the subject and warned that if players kept favouring domestic leagues over representing their country, it could become hard to "continue putting up the front" about the quality of international cricket.
Olivier, aged 26 and recently established in South Africa's Test team, joined an exodus that has, in recent months, seen compatriots Morne Morkel, Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw prefer a future as Kolpak registrations in county cricket to representing their national team. With players from some nations able to earn more and sign longer-term contracts from domestic leagues, Holder feared more of them could be lost from the international game.
Until something is properly done to keep players a little bit more grounded financially, I don't know how much longer you can continue putting up the frontJASON HOLDER
There were 14 Kolpak registrations playing county cricket in 2018, while West Indies has previously struggled with the availability of some players due to schedule clashes between the international game and T20 leagues.
"It's really sad to see another quality player lost to Kolpak cricket," Holder said. "Until something is properly done to keep players a little bit more grounded financially, I don't know how much longer you can continue putting up the front.
"People still want to see international cricket being at the forefront. I just think, going forward, we need to find a way to keep players playing for their country so we can have an attractive product. Probably the ICC and FICA need to get together and institute a substantial minimum salary so that players will feel comfortable coming home to represent their country.
"Test cricket is something that has picked up in the last year and a half. West Indies beating England; Sri Lanka beating South Africa: these are significant things. These can continue to spark Test cricket. There's so much prestige behind it and so much work behind it. I can only hope we can find some common ground where players are properly compensated and encouraged to play Test cricket as opposed to running off to domestic leagues.
"Personally I have had a few conversations with people at FICA. They are doing a hell of a job trying to get a level playing field for everyone and trying to have a fair standard for players and for leagues to be able to attract players. I don't want to speak of a figure at this time but I've had discussions with people at FICA and we are trying to find solutions to these problems.
"It's just ongoing discussions. I don't know if we'll find a middle ground as soon as we like. Hopefully in the not too distant future we can find common ground where players are playing for their countries and also have time to play in domestic leagues."
Holder, who has signed a short-term stint as an overseas player for Northamptonshire in the early weeks of the season, also hinted that he had received Kolpak offers. And while he reiterated his commitment to West Indies cricket for the foreseeable future, he did suggest he could look to "cash in" towards the end of his career.
"Most young cricketers in this day and age have had that dilemma," he said. "It's about what you want as a player. I've had age on my side, getting into West Indies cricket early and wanting to commit to it. I wanted to give myself a fair shot at a good international career and, if I stay fit and healthy, I can always cash in at the back end of my career.
"Some other players don't feel that way because of their personal needs. I don't judge people for their decisions. They have to live with the decisions and be happy with the ones they make.
"But it's really sad that you lose quality players due to domestic leagues and with a lot more players going Kolpak."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo