West Indies captain Jason Holder has called for a minimum wage for international cricketers, describing Duanne Olivier’s Kolpak deal with Yorkshire as “really sad to see”.
The seamer’s decision to call time on his South Africa career at the age of just 26 following a breakthrough year with the Proteas has caused a stir, widening debates about the long-term health of the international game.
Olivier is the latest in a long list of capped players who have opted for the financial security of domestic deals in county cricket ahead of further opportunities on the world stage, a talent drain that does not appear sustainable.
The West Indies have had problems of their own, with their top talents sometimes favouring lucrative Twenty20 deals at the expense of lesser-paid international prospects.
Holder reacted with disappointment, but understanding, to news of Olivier’s decision and believes measures must be put in place at the highest level to put an end to the situation.
“It’s really sad to see another quality player lost to Kolpak cricket,” he said.
“I don’t know what the International Cricket Council can do to better compensate players for playing Test cricket, maybe setting a minimum wage for Test cricket so players can fulfil their country’s needs by playing in the longer formats.
“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.
“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. We as players have to make our own decisions and have to live with the consequences. I don’t judge people for their decisions.”
Holder revealed he had been involved in discussions with the international players’ union, FICA, to push for his proposed central funding model.
“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,” he said.
“I don’t know if we’ll get there as soon as we like but 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.”
Tony Irish, executive chairman of FICA, shares much of Holder’s assessment and believes a minimum international wage could be part of the long-term solution.
“I agree that it is sad when a player such at Duanne is lost to international cricket but one also has to understand that the Kolpak situation is similar to the issue of free agency in cricket,” he told Press Association Sport.
“In both, a player is free to exercise a choice as to where and how he plies his trade. Players are often blamed for the choices they make but the system is set up to allow those choices.
“Jason’s suggestion of minimum match fees for international cricket would assist the situation and may just be one component.
“There isn’t one simple solution, and it’s not always only financial, but ensuring that players are incentivised to continue to play international cricket is certainly part of it.”