South Africa news October 29, 2009

Kemp happy to return to South African fold

Cricinfo staff

Allrounder Justin Kemp has said he is relieved to be back in the official fold with South Africa after his stint with the rebel Indian Cricket League. Kemp, who is now back in contention for Cape Cobras, will play his first match for his domestic franchise in the revamped 40-over competition next Friday, against the Lions at the Wanderers.

Kemp, along with several international and Indian domestic players, severed ties with the ICL after its third season, scheduled earlier this year, could not take place due to the global economic downturn. Kemp admitted that, in hindsight, it was a mistake joining the ICL but the players back then were hopeful the league would be given official status by the ICC and the cricket boards. Kemp was banned from playing domestic cricket in South Africa but was allowed to represent his county Kent.

"It's lovely to be back. I'm looking forward to playing again," Kemp told Cape Argus. "It was tough coming home last year and not being able to play.

"It was a mistake to go and play there but we thought things would get sorted out and the rebel league issue would disappear. I was not playing for South Africa at the time and the IPL hadn't started yet."

Kemp joined the ICL in 2007 and was part of the successful Hyderabad Heroes unit, which won the inaugural tournament and finished runners-up in the second season. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of the tournament and it's players, Kemp said he enjoyed his experience.

"It was fantastic in the first season. There was a media blackout and people didn't see the games," Kemp said. "There were some really good Indian players. We won the first competition and lost the final of the second one in the third leg of the final."

Kemp had an impressive 2009 season with Kent, scoring 780 runs at 43.33 in the County Championship and picking up eight wickets. He helped his county gain promotion to the top division and will take a call on returning for the 2010 season.

"I'm probably fitter than I was in my 20s, and I feel I have a lot of miles left in my body. I worked a lot with coach Graham Ford at Kent, and I often bowled first change. I played all the four-day games," Kemp said. "There is so much scope at the Cobras for guys to kick on. The big challenge is four-day cricket, but there is so much talent in the Cape that, if we get a few things right, we can challenge in that competition."

Kemp last played for South Africa during the ICC World Twenty20, which just preceded his entry into the ICL.