Club v country debate on the horizon for Steyn
A bun fight could be brewing over Dale Steyn's national-versus-club duties as reports linking him to Glamorgan continue to swirl. Steyn may turn out for the county in part of their NatWest T20 Blast campaign, which coincides with South Africa's participation in an ODI triangular tournament in the Caribbean.
Steyn was left out of the squad for the tri-series after the selectors decided he needed rest ahead of the August Tests against New Zealand. However, Steyn may not be putting his feet up at all, and CSA may have been forced to provide Steyn with a no-objection certificate (NOC), which goes against their selectors' wishes because the fast bowler is understood to want both game time and pounds.
Although neither Glamorgan nor Steyn's agent Dave Rundle confirmed Steyn was joining the county, Steyn's former provincial and international team-mate Jacques Rudolph, captain of Glamorgan, confirmed there were ongoing talks. Rudolph was quoted by BBC Sport Wales as saying there was a "good possibility" of Steyn playing for Glamorgan, and that they were waiting on " a visa issue" to confirm his availability. Steyn himself at hinted at the stint last week, when he asked about good fishing spots in Glamorgan on Twitter.
Any good fishing spots in Glamorgan...?— Dale Steyn (@DaleSteyn62) May 10, 2016
The T20 blast runs over three months from May 20 - the final is on August 20 - with Glamorgan's first game to be played on May 26. South Africa's tri-series in the West Indies begins on June 3 and concludes on June 26 but the next time Steyn will be needed for the country is on August 19, when a two-Test series against New Zealand begins. Steyn is also due to play for Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League, which starts on June 30. That means he could play seven games for Glamorgan between May 26 and June 24, and three CPL games before his next international assignment, which will more than double the game time he has had this year; so far in 2016, Steyn has played just seven matches, two T20 warm-up matches, four internationals and one at the IPL.
He had spent the bulk of the South African summer injured, after sustaining a groin problem during the first Test against India in Mohali in November and then picking up a shoulder injury during the Boxing Day Test at home against England. Steyn recovered in time to play the T20s against Australia and then at the World T20, where he only featured in two of South Africa's four games.
Despite Steyn's seemingly waning presence in limited-overs cricket, convener of selectors Linda Zondi said Steyn was "not out of the ODI picture" and could still feature in the September series against Australia, but the priority was to preserve him for Test cricket. For that reason the selectors did not want Steyn in action in June, but the possible deal with Glamorgan will change that and there is little CSA can do to stop it.
CSA could force Steyn to rest by refusing him an NOC, a document required by all South African players regardless of whether they are nationally contracted or not to participate in other countries' competitions. However if an NOC is refused, the South African Cricketers' Association would scrutinise the reasons for the refusal. Steyn's non-selection for the West Indies tri-series could work against CSA's wanting to control that period of his time, though they have made it clear that they want Steyn to rest.
This situation could open the door for discussions over the content of national contracts, which could increasingly see players advocate for more free-enterprise. CSA reserves the right to issue disclaimers with their NOCs - for example that a player cannot play more than a certain number of matches during the time he is at an overseas club - and prioritise international cricket over foreign domestic leagues. The weak Rand, which sits at 22.49 to the pound at Tuesday's exchange rate, has been cited as the main reason for South Africans opting for stints overseas. But there has also been a suggestion that the increased focus on transformation has left many players uncertain over their futures and caused them to seek career security elsewhere.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent