Duanne Olivier’s decision to join Yorkshire and try to qualify for England will rock South Africa, a core cricket nation

We are all prisoners of our own generation and my dad was no exception. When he went into hospital to be greeted by a Nigerian nurse, he was – not having met many Nigerians – a bit nervous. “She’s lovely,” he reported next day and never worried about the subject again. But I did.

Because if Britain’s hospitals are staffed by African and Asian doctors and nurses, who then is looking after patients in their own countries? The answer in some cases is no one. “Too many immigrants,” think part of the UK population (52%?). “No, there isn’t,” say others (48?). Does anyone consider the other side of the equation?

Romania has lost a fifth of its population in the past 30 years, nearly all to western Europe. Sure, many send money home – but the best and brightest have gone, and the countryside is deserted. What kind of future is that for a country?

The connection between that and cricket may not be obvious, but listen. In February Yorkshire signed a 26-year-old South African fast bowler called Duanne Olivier, the 43rd player to join an English county under the “Kolpak” ruling, a 2003 European Court of Justice decision that insisted free movement applied to sports teams not just within the EU but to countries that had relevant agreements with the EU – like South Africa.

Most of the 43 have been players whose prospects of representing their country were slender. They were the peripheral, the past-it and the pissed-off. But Olivier is different. This winter he became South African cricket’s brightest new star – 31 wickets in five Tests – and was all set to be unleashed in the World Cup and in the series against England later this year.

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