<
>

Piedt assures South Africa he is not taking Kolpak route

play
What is a Kolpak deal? (3:03)

Kyle Abbott is set to join Hampshire on a Kolpak deal, but what is a Kolpak deal? Here is a quick explainer (3:03)

After the double blow of losing Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw to Kolpak deals, South Africa can console themselves with Russell Domingo's assurance that offspinner Dane Piedt is not looking to go the same way.

Piedt has lost ground to left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj in South Africa's Test plans and according to his agent Francois Brink was, "considering all options including Kolpak" a few weeks ago but Domingo denied that despite Brink saying that he had not stopped the search altogether.

"He said by no means was he ever signing Kolpak," Domingo said. "He said he felt Cricket South Africa (CSA) have been really good to him."

Piedt has played seven Tests between August 2014 and 2016, a period of time during which he also suffered a serious shoulder injury. He was out of action for several months but when he regained fitness was considered for national selection again and Domingo said Piedt was happy with the way he had been treated. "He was injured for a long period of time and we told him to go on an SA A tour, play well and then he will make it into the national side. He has done that," Domingo said.

But he has not stayed there, prompting suggestions he may look for opportunity elsewhere. Piedt was not picked for the tour to Australia last November - left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi also went ahead of him as the second spinner - and was not considered for the ongoing series against Sri Lanka, primarily because the selectors feel he is too inconsistent. His average of 36.04 is one measure of that, Maharaj's ability to tie up an end is another - he has an economy rate of 2.81 - but Domingo stressed that Piedt understands why he was left out and what he needs to do to get back in.

"He has done okay without setting the world alight and we just feel right now that Keshav is the guy that we are looking at. But he is very comfortable where he is."

Piedt was named interim captain of his franchise, Cobras, who have undergone an overhaul in the last week. Their season began with players calling for Paul Adams to be removed as coach because they were unhappy with his handling of the team but the board backed Adams. Cobras did not win any of their first five first-class fixtures and several players, including Piedt, were sent on loan to other franchises in the T20 campaign, where they fared slightly better. Piedt was given to Titans but only played two matches for them and that is when talk of his exit started.

Cobras have since redeployed Adams to a role in high performance and appointed Ashwell Prince as caretaker coach. Piedt has returned, along with batsman Omphile Ramela, who was captaining the first-class side in the first half of the season, but has handed over the reins. As far as Domingo is concerned, Piedt's focus remains on getting the franchise back on track and trying to stake a claim for an international recall.

"He has got a good challenge with the Cobras captaincy and he knows he is one of three or four options for us in the spin bowling world. As far as I know, he is not signing Kolpak."

Piedt's agent, though, has not had any firm communication to stop looking for a deal in the UK but admitted they were not having much luck anyway. "I haven't spoken to him about what the effects of him being made captain at Cobras will have on his mindset but he hasn't instructed me to stop looking," Brink told ESPNcricinfo. "We haven't had any enquiries in a while. He understands that it's difficult for an offspinner to get a deal in England."

Should Piedt stay, that would be a victory for South Africa's administrators, who recognised that he needed an incentive and provided one. But it is not a reason for them to stop searching for ways to prevent other players from leaving. Tony Irish, chief executive of the South African Cricketers' Association, joined Faf du Plessis in calling on CSA to provide more certainty - be it financial, contractual or something else - to the country's players.

"It's disappointing to lose players of the calibre of Kyle and Rilee, but you can't blame these players, or any of the Kolpak players, for going this route. They are going to environments where they believe they will be more secure in their careers," Irish said. "The global cricket landscape offers alternative markets for players these days and this is a reality we must deal with. We need to look more critically at how we can make players more secure in the South African environment. This is not just about money but also about other issues that matter to players. Our top players are scarce resources in which CSA has invested and we have to look at a more effective retention strategy for them in South Africa."