England in South Africa 2009-10 January 15, 2010

Imran Tahir affair an embarrassment for CSA

The depths of confusion surrounding the call-up of Imran Tahir to the South Africa squad for the second Test against England have been revealed with Gerald Majola, the Cricket South Africa CEO, saying it came as a "shock" to see Tahir in the 15-man party and that the incident had caused "much embarrassment."

Mike Procter, the convenor of selectors, included Tahir but later the same day the decision was overturned after it became clear the legspinner wasn't yet eligible for South Africa. Confusion reigned as coach Mickey Arthur wasn't clear on the regulations and now Majola has confirmed Tahir is not available for South Africa until December 2010, which rules him out of the tours to India and the West Indies when it was originally believed he qualified in April last year.

Tahir is ineligible on two grounds. He began his qualification period in 2006 and has to spend at least 183 days in the country for four consecutive years and he has not completed that period until December. There is then an additional CSA requirement that the player must either be a national or hold a permanent residency permit.

CSA have apologised to Tahir for confusion and any embarrassment caused and Majola has said that he will ensure the correct procedures are followed in the future.

"CSA takes this opportunity to provide the background to this unfortunate affair which has caused both Imran Tahir and South African cricket much embarrassment," Majola said. "Imran came to South Africa in 2006 and expressed a wish to become a representative player in South Africa and to gain permanent residency. He has subsequently married a South African national.

"He has played local representative cricket over the past three years, and has applied for permanent residency. This application process, we understand, is now reaching fruition. Imran does not qualify for selection to South Africa at this stage under the CSA regulations. When and if he does, CSA will then be required to apply to the ICC for permission to select him should CSA so wish.

"In these circumstances, it came as a shock to see a public announcement by CSA's convenor of national selectors that Imran had been included in South Africa's squad for the final Test against England.

"My office ordered the immediate withdrawal of Imran from the squad because of his ineligibility. Subsequently, the convenor has apologised to the player, the public and CSA for this most unfortunate mistake through the misunderstanding of the processes involved."

Tahir will take up a contract as Warwickshire's overseas player in the English County Championship for the 2010 season and is also expected to move domestic franchises in South Africa to join Durban-based side the Dolphins.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo