The information below provides an overview of the main registration criteria that must be satisfied to enable cricketers to play Competitive County Cricket in the UK.
Please note that the information provided is intended as a summary only. For full details please view the Regulations Governing the Qualification and Registration of Cricketers to play County Cricket.
Subject to the overriding discretion of the ECB, a Cricketer will only be qualified to play in a Competitive County Cricket match as a 'Qualified Cricketer' if he is:
- an EEA national (other than a Bulgarian and Romanian national), or
- a national of Bulgaria and Romania who is able to exercise a treaty right as a worker in the United Kingdom without restriction, or
- a national of a state which is a party to an agreement with the EU and its member states providing that their nationals lawfully employed within the EEA shall have employment rights equal to those of EEA nationals (see Kolpak Ruling information below).
Each county is entitled to register one ‘Unqualified Cricketer’ (i.e. Cricketers who do not fulfil the 'Qualified Cricketer' requirements outlined above).
The Kolpak Ruling came into force in 2003 and makes it possible for English county cricket clubs to employ the services of multiple overseas cricketers, and in particular cricketers from South Africa.
The Kolpak Ruling declares that anyone with a work permit from a country which has an associate trading agreement with the EU had the same rights as a European worker. This means that county clubs can sign cricketers from around 100 countries without having to designate them as overseas players as long as they have not represented their country in the past year. Kolpak players then only need a working holiday visa to play. Countries that have an association agreement include South Africa, Zimbabwe, and many of the nations that supply the West Indies cricket team.