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Cricket news - Dane Paterson set to board sinking Kolpak ship

Dane Paterson celebrating a wicket in his second and possibly final Test for South Africa

Dane Paterson celebrating a wicket in his second and possibly final Test for South Africa

Dane Paterson could become the latest and perhaps the last South African to take the Kolpak route out of the country's cricket structures. Fast bowler Paterson, who has played a dozen white-ball internationals since January 2017 and featured in two Tests against England last season, is believed to be in discussions with Nottinghamshire.

"We've been informed he's doing so," Paterson's Cobras coach, Ashwell Prince, told an online press conference on Monday, without naming the county concerned, when asked whether Paterson had agreed a Kolpak contract. "But he needs final boxes to be ticked by the ECB [England Cricket Board]. We've been told it's going to be done."

If the deal is sealed, Paterson will become the 69th player to exercise the Kolpak option. Only 20 have not been South African. But the arrangement could be shortlived. The United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) on March 31, which spells the imminent end of the Kolpak ruling's impact on cricket. Currently, the measure enables counties to thwart the England Cricket Board's (ECB) rules on how many foreigners they are allowed to field. Kolpak privileges are extended to the citizens of the 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries whose governments are party to the Cotonou agreement with the EU.

Essentially, Kolpak makes the citizens of 105 other countries - the remaining 27 in the EU and the 78 Cotonou signatories - English in terms of their eligibility to play county cricket. That will change on December 31 this year, which marks the end of the UK's transition period out of the EU. So, unless the transition is prolonged, the Kolpak window will close at the end of the year.

But Paterson would seem to have a plan B up his sleeve. "He has signed a Kolpak deal effectively," Cobras spokesperson David Brooke said. "He is just awaiting the final rubber stamp from the ECB. If Kolpak falls away then he will be playing as an overseas pro for the County. We have been requested not to mention the name of the County until Dane has had his final interview with the ECB to ratify it."

The news has probably come as a surprise to Cricket South Africa, who it appears were under the impression that Paterson had turned Notts down. But there is unlikely to be major disappointment about a player who turned 31 on Saturday leaving a country not short of fast bowlers. "As a 30-plus-year-old bowler you don't have that many years left in you," Prince said. "I'm sure they sit down and calculate what realistic opportunities will they have of playing for the Proteas. If not, they'll consider other options."

Of course, all avenues for making a living by playing cricket - along with vast swathes of the global economy - have been thrown into doubt by the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, Yorkshire revealed they had become the first County to furlough their players and staff. Salaries are covered for now, largely by the UK government's job retention scheme, but the situation remains fraught with uncertainty. The most high profile Kolpak defector in recent years, Duanne Olivier, played his first match for Yorkshire in March last year.

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