Simon Harmer during his playing days with the Warriors. He is currently the leading wicket-taker in the County Championship however his playing career hangs in the balance as Brexit looms. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

The ECB have warned the 18 first-class counties that Kolpak cricketers will no longer be eligible to play here domestically beyond the end of the 2020 season if the UK completes a no-deal Brexit this year.

The governing body have circulated an email listing likely scenarios for players currently qualified to participate here as locals by virtue of a Kolpak registration or the holding of an EU passport.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit on October 31 or the following two months, the ECB have been advised that new applications for the registration of Kolpak/EU cricketers would become void with immediate effect.

Players already contracted here would be permitted to continue under their existing terms for 2020 provided they remain at their current clubs. That grace period would end on December 31 next year.

Even if a Brexit deal is struck before the end of 2020, the 40 or so county cricketers affected by the directives — including Essex spinner Simon Harmer, the leading wicket-taker in this year’s County Championship — would have their existing deals cancelled at the same point and they could only continue as overseas players.

The highest-profile of a raft of recent Kolpak recruits, South Africa fast bowler Duanne Olivier, has a clause in his three-year contract with Yorkshire that would trigger an immediate switch to overseas status in the event of such an outcome.

Kolpak players are citizens of countries which have signed EU Association Agreements. The ruling gives those players — mostly from Caribbean and African nations — the same working rights as EU citizens.

Daily Mail