Dane Piedt is "considering all options" to further his cricket career in England and would not be averse to a Kolpak deal, according to his agent Francois Brink. Piedt, who has played seven Tests for South Africa, most recently in August, would ideally welcome a stint as an overseas player on the county circuit but is open to other offers as well.
"He is looking for a deal but whether that is overseas or Kolpak, we are waiting to see," Brink told ESPNcricinfo. "Dane is still keen to play for South Africa and if a Kolpak offer came it would require heavy consideration. At the moment, there is nothing on the table and he is fully committed to South Africa."
Should Piedt opt for the Kolpak route, he would be the fourth recent Test cap to pause his international career and head for England after Stiaan van Zyl, Simon Harmer and Hardus Viljoen all signed for counties from the 2017 season. There is talk of at least two other players involved in the South Africa Test set-up being interested in similar deals.
A source close to the players revealed that their reasons have as much to do with financial security and limited opportunities at home as they do with the uncertainty over what Brexit - the UK vote to leave the EU - will mean for South Africans looking to work there.
"We all know the Rand is declining but it's when you see players like Dane Piedt or Stiaan van Zyl struggling to get into franchise teams for the domestic T20 because the teams need to meet targets, you understand why some of them are looking to leave," the insider said.
For Piedt, who is non-white, the argument takes a different twist. CSA's transformation targets stipulate that franchises must field six players of colour, of which three must be black African - effectively leaving only three places for those of mixed race or Indian descent. As a result, Piedt has found it difficult to get game time at the Titans, where he is on loan from the Cobras. Piedt has been a regular in the Cobras' first-class campaign this year.
At national level, the team is required to have an average of six players of colour over the course of a season, of which at least two must be black African. Piedt has lost ground to Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi in the national selectors' eyes but he has been included in the South African XI to play the touring Sri Lankans in a warm-up match starting this weekend.
While transformation is being blamed for the possible talent drain, former South Africa captain Graeme Smith played it down as the reason for players looking elsewhere.
"Everyone is probably going to go the transformation angle but CSA have been honest and open about their transformation policies and I actually like that," Smith said. "I think it's nice to see that they've put themselves out there. Free agency is one of the greatest challenges to world cricket today, with the twenty-over competitions and the opportunities to not only make money but forge careers in other parts of the world."
He urged CSA to do its best to keep hold of the majority of players. "That's why the culture of South African cricket, the honesty, the value system needs to be really strong and hopefully that you will keep creating dreams that people want to play for the Proteas, that are greater than the monies they can earn elsewhere or the opportunities that lie out there," he said.
CSA has indicated it is not overly concerned about the numbers that may be lost. Haroon Lorgat told the Guardian : "We cannot restrain individuals from plying their trade. Over and above our regular reviews of the domestic playing rules and regulations to ensure it is fit for purpose, we will continue to rather focus on making sure that we have the best systems to produce the best cricketers in numbers. We have realised a long time back that the world is a global village with people very mobile. Like in every other country and across every other profession, South African citizens will venture abroad to take advantage of stronger currencies and employment opportunities."
While the Rand has strengthened against the pound, it sits at over R17 at the moment and the lure of building a nest egg is too strong for some players to turn down, especially because they may not have that for much longer. The uncertainty over what changes to the UK's relationship with Europe will mean for Kolpak signings - which rely on trading agreements with the EU - means that "a lot of players are looking to get in while they still can," the source said.