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South African cricket review highlights player loss

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I respect Kyle's decision, but don't agree with it - Faf du Plessis (3:14)

South Africa captain comments on Kyle Abbott's decision to give up his national duties and play as a Kolpak player for Hampshire in the English county (3:14)

At a time when the loss of South African players to Kolpak deals has returned to the spotlight, a review into the state of the game in the country has picked out retaining talent as one of the key areas that needs to be addressed.

On Monday it was confirmed that David Wiese had followed the path of Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw into English domestic cricket joining Stiaan van Zyl, Simon Harmer, Hardus Viljoen who signed for counties last year.

One of seven recommendations made in the national team review, which was implemented last year after collective struggles of the various South Africa sides, said CSA needed to "formulate and execute a strategy to minimise or stop the loss of 'players of national interest' in our setup."

After the confirmation of Abbott and Rossouw quitting international cricket last week, Test captain Faf du Plessis appealed for CSA to address all the issues that may have played a part in their decisions.

"It's a red flag and we have to address it. It's important that we look at how we can learn from this and make sure that this isn't something that two years from now, has meant we've lost 10 or 15 players and we say, 'oopsie'," du Plessis said. "We need to make sure we get better at it. There's too much talent in South Africa to lose guys like that."

Responding to the review, CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat said significant investment in players and coaches at all levels was about to be made. "We are already in the process of rolling out new coaching structures and individual player performance plans after the Board approved funding in excess of R100 million over the next four years," he said. That amounts to US$7.3 million, which will see a substantial amount of money being invested in South African players.

Player retention was just one point of a wide review conducted into South African cricket. Revamping the coaching structures and expanding the domestic scene to include one more franchise were also among the most important recommendations presented to CSA by the review panels.

Two panels - one to look into national issues and one domestic - were convened by CSA last year after a summer of discontent on the South African circuit. In April, when South Africa had tumbled from No.1 to No.7 on the Test rankings and were booted out of the World T20 in the first round, CSA set up a four-person independent review panel to look into the under performance of all national teams.

CSA felt they needed a comprehensive dissection of the issues which also saw the women's team also struggled at the T20 and the under-19s appear hapless in defence their 2014 World Cup title. They also put in place a domestic review to determine whether that system was serving the international game as best as it could.

But, in June the national review panel was abandoned after CSA and some of the members failed to agree terms. Still, the domestic review went ahead and in the months since then the national review panel was reconstituted despite the upturn in South Africa's fortunes and completed its work. CSA's board will now consider the suggestions before deciding which ones they would like to implement.

Coach Russell Domingo's role does not appear to have been scrutinised - as was initially the plan - perhaps because was already been given a contract extension until the end of the England tour in August this year. However, the suggestion to employ a director of cricket indicated the panel believes Domingo does need to be accountable to someone other than the board and that South Africa needs a more centralised coaching structure. CSA already has a general manager of cricket, former national coach Corrie van Zyl, but may look at other options.

The other significant point was made around involving former internationals, something South Africa have started to do. This season, Mark Boucher and Ashwell Prince have taken up franchise coaching roles, Jacques Kallis was invited to a South Africa training session at Newlands and Graeme Smith was part of the review panel. Having these players, who were all part of the generation that won the Test mace, involved in some capacity is thought to be key to building the culture known as Protea Fire, which Smith cultivated.

Although there were no recommendations around transformation - CSA already has targets in place at both national and domestic level - both panels stressed the importance of embracing a commitment to change. In a statement, the review panel encouraged a change in mindset as cricket sought to offer opportunities to all South Africans.

"It should not be a numbers game which leads to a focus on the numbers instead of the root causes of the problem. Rather, it should be something that is tackled holistically throughout the system - and this calls for a deep-seated mind shift for all involved in cricket for it to be sustainable. Essentially, we will only know that we have the strongest team possible on the field if there has been equal access for all," the statement read.

The biggest domestic issue tackled was the size of the franchise system. More than ten years ago - in the 2004-5 season - CSA abandoned their 11-team provincial in favour of six franchises, effectively almost halving the number of professional cricketers in the country. This has resulted in a narrowing of opportunity, with only around 90 contracts available per season.

In a bid to stem the talent drain and seek out a deeper talent pool, the panel recommended the addition of one more franchise to increase player number to 105. A possible location for this franchise was not revealed but the Eastern Cape - the heartland of black African cricket - is a likely possibility.