The English County season has reached its conclusion with the unfancied Essex following up their promotion last year to win the title. A massive part of this success was the sensational form of Simon Harmer, who really was unfairly not given more time in the SA test squad in my opinion. So I dived into the county season to highlight the five South African players on Kolpak deals who have shown the most.
Simon Harmer – Essex
It is incredible to think that a year ago Simon was somehow relegated to playing in the Africa T20 tournament as he captained a team from the Eastern Cape. Fast Forward 12 months and Simon, one of the most undervalued players in SA, is a champion of the County Championship. His 66 wickets, including 9 in one inning, leave him second only to his teammate Jamie Porter. It has been a fantastic season for big red and a reminder to so many fans at home that we have an incredible spinner that we chose not to use!
Kyle Abbott – Hampshire
Of course, Kyle going over was as popular as Allister Coetzee’s team selections, but the man who had been yo-yoed in and out of the team and a victim of political interference went and has flourished. In his 13 matches, he picked up 50 wickets to sit just behind only the Simon and Porter in the wickets tally. His consistency was key in Hampshire finishing fourth in the County Championship, just one point behind Surrey.
Ryan McLaren – Lancashire
McLaren is a genuine all-rounder and showed that in the past season. He was the fifth highest wicket taker with 44 wickets and then backed that up with 527 runs, including the one century scoring 107. Never really seemed to fit with the South African bowling line-up or to fill the pressure of filling in the Jacques Kallis role, but looks a much more solid player now than in his test playing years.
Dane Vilas – Lancashire
A man much like Kyle Abbott in that he was in and out of the team more often than the villain is in and out of a soap opera. The difference for Vilas is that he was competing for one spot with Quinton de Kock, arguably South Africa’s most gifted cricket at present. He has gone to England and playing for runners-up Lancashire, he is not playing as a keeper but rather a batsman. He backed that selection well when he smashed the tournament high score of 244. Should probably have been given more opportunities with SA, but is now enjoying his career as a Kolpak player.
Stiaan van Zyl – Sussex
It’s been a long time since Stiaan scored a century on debut in Test cricket. His loss of form and confidence was covered more extensively than the Oscar Pistorius Trial. Stiaan headed off to England and has put his head down and slowly rebuilt that confidence. He is the only one on our list playing in the second tier but is no less impactful. He also is pretty handy in throwing a few balls done while fielding, picking up a handy ten wickets as a part-timer!
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