South Africa to name reduced contracts list
The United Cricket Board of South Africa is expected to reduce its current number of centrally contracted players from 20 to a figure nearer 13, when the current deals expire at the end of South Africa's tour of the Caribbean in May.
According to a report in the Johannesburg-based Star newspaper, 13 players have already been recommended for new deals, although AB de Villiers and Justin Kemp, who currently fall outside that list, are expected to be added, if their performances against West Indies are up to the anticipated standard.
But there will be no new deal for Lance Klusener, while Paul Adams and Neil McKenzie are two other veterans whose hopes of a contract have faded. The only other new face currently in the mix is Charl Langeveldt, who made an instant impact on his Test debut in January, bowling South Africa to victory in the Newlands Test despite the pain of a broken hand.
South Africa has been suffering from a steady drain of white talent to England county cricket in recent years, with Martin van Jaarsveld - who played in the Durban Test against England - becoming the latest to take advantage of the Kolpak ruling by joining Kent for the 2005 season. But this news should at least prevent further losses from the squad, by safeguarding the incomes of their leading players for another 12 months.
The UCB has set a target of seven black cricketers in the squad for the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, and this quota looks set to be handsomely filled. In addition to Langeveldt, there are three more senior squad members in Herschelle Gibbs, Makhaya Ntini and Ashwell Prince, plus JP Duminy, Monde Zondeki - who has been selected for the third one-day international against Zimbabwe - and the up-and-coming spinner, Thandi Tshabalala.