What’s the story?
New Zealand all-rounder Grant Elliott has signed a Kolpak deal with Warwickshire County Cricket Club, effectively calling time on his eventful international career. The 38-year-old will only feature for the County’s T20 team Birmingham Bears in the Natwest Blast. He is also set to announce his retirement from international T20s.
Elliott said, “I'm very excited to have signed for Birmingham Bears to play in the T20 Blast. Edgbaston is a fantastic place to play cricket, and I'm really looking forward to taking to the field as a proud Bear and hope to contribute to more success for the club in 2017.”
Ashley Giles, Director of Warwickshire CCC, stated, “Grant has proven himself as a match-winner on the biggest stage. He top scored in the final and semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015 and he has a wealth of T20 experience, having played in several of the world's leading competitions. He will be a proud Bear and we look forward to welcoming him to Edgbaston in July.”
Named after Slovak handball player Maroš Kolpak, the deal allows a professional hailing from a nation that is part of European Union Association Agreements to work in an EU country without being categorised as an overseas player. The flip side sees him giving up the right to represent his country at the international stage for the entire duration of the deal.
The heart of the matter
Elliott, born in Johannesburg, left South Africa for greener pastures in 2001. He continued to move up the echelons of New Zealand cricket and received his maiden international opportunity in the 2008 Napier Test against England.
With the selectors identifying that his skill-set would be more suited for the limited-overs formats, the right-hander got to play 83 ODIs and 16 T20Is over the course of his career.
The highlight of his career was the 2015 World Cup semi-final wherein he knocked out the country of his birth with a 73-ball 84. He eventually announced his retirement from the 50-over format last year but declined to take a call on his T20I career then.
With the Kolpak move, he is set to bid adieu to T20Is as well which will bring the curtains down on his international career. Even though he joins fellow New Zealand players Colin de Grandhomme and Jeetan Patel in the Birmingham Bears, Elliott will feature as a non-overseas player unlike those two.
Elliott’s move comes in the wake of several South African players signing Kolpak deals in the recent past. Having gone unsold in the IPL Auction, the 2017 Natwest T20 Blast will be his next assignment. It is scheduled to begin on July 7.
At 38, Elliott’s decision is justified to a certain extent. With New Zealand shifting their focus to younger players for the game’s shortest format, the Kolpak deal will allow him regular opportunities in England.