South Africa batsman Rilee Rossouw has ended his international career by signing a three-year deal to join English county Hampshire as a Kolpak player. Rossouw, 27, revealed his decision to leave South Africa on the same day that fast bowler Kyle Abbott also confirmed his decision to join Hampshire as a Kolpak player.
South Africa's coach Russell Domingo said he was "bitterly disappointed" in Rossouw. "We backed him when he made five noughts," Domingo said. "If that had been a player of colour, everyone would have said transformation. I haven't spoken to him since Australia but I am very disappointed." Rossouw had made four ducks in his first six ODI innings.
Following Rossouw's decision, Cricket South Africa said it was in the process of terminating his contract and that he would not be considered "for any future national selection."
"It is a disappointing day not just for South African cricket but also for international cricket as these players have given up their opportunity to be seen in action on the international circuit," CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said. "From CSA's perspective it is a loss as we invest immeasurable amounts which include premium time, finance, technical, high performance coaching followed by development tours and providing general player welfare over a long period of time.
"By way of example, Rilee has spent a lengthy period on the injury list while we spared no expense in providing him with the best medical support.
"Both Rilee and Kyle have been given opportunities over the past year to play at the highest level and were firmly in our plans for the future. We have encouraged Rilee and Kyle to reconsider their decisions but both have indicated that they wish to take up Kolpak contracts. Whilst this is a loss for South African cricket we can only wish them well with their overseas careers.
"We will continue to invest heavily in our local talent and provide opportunities for those individuals who wish to realise their dream of playing for their country; we will not contract players who do not commit to play for South Africa."
Domingo's anger at Rossouw's departure was particularly palpable as he revisited the change of events. "I haven't heard from Rilee since we left Australia to be honest," he said. "Some of us have tried to get hold of him, and this is the truth, we got an email from him off his iPhone telling us he's signed Kolpak. He spelt my name wrong for starters. He wrote one L instead of two. That's where we are. I am bitterly disappointed in him. That's the bottom truth. He toured Australia as the back-up Test batsman. He was the next batsman in."
Rossouw played 36 ODIs and 15 T20Is for South Africa after making his international debut in August 2014. While he had never quite secured a long-term spot in South Africa's squads, Rossouw was their highest run-scorer in their most recent limited-overs series: he played all five ODIs against Australia at home in October 2016 and scored 311 runs at an average of 78.
He was part of the Test squad that won the series 2-1 in Australia in October and November 2016-17 but did not play a game. He was then left out of the ongoing home Test series against Sri Lanka because of a foot injury.