Quinton de Kock and David Miller have been awarded national contracts by Cricket South Africa for 2014-15. The new list has been trimmed from its usual 20-plus names to 17 following an agreement between CSA and the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA).
Marchant de Lange, Dean Elgar, Colin Ingram, Aaron Phangiso and Thami Tsolekile are the five players no longer on CSA's books. Test retiree Jacques Kallis has been given a one-year contract "to recognise his immense contribution to South African cricket over a long period of time and to secure his availability for the ODI squad", according to a CSA release.
In addition to the current list, CSA will also offer 12 top-up contracts for "aspiring Franchise players who could be regarded as potential Proteas in the future". Those players will only be identified once the franchises have completed their own contracts.
While no official reason has been given for the cut in the number of contracts, ESPNcricinfo understands that the trimming is linked to an expected shortfall of R54 million (US$5m) in CSA's budget. CSA reportedly incurred a significant loss on the curtailed 2013-14 India tour - though the final figures are yet to arrive - and it is possible the effects are starting to show. The board had hoped to earn R318 million (US $29m) from India arriving to play three Tests, seven ODIs and two T20s; instead a shortened itinerary included just two Tests and three ODIs.
De Kock made his mark on the India one-dayers, becoming the fifth player to score three consecutive ODI hundreds. Both he and Miller are regular members of South Africa's limited-overs squads and, at 21 and 24 respectively, should have big roles to play in the future.
Elgar's omission comes despite his involvement in the ongoing Test series against Australia. He remains in the squad as the back-up batsman, having made one century in seven Test appearances, and could come into contention for the second Test in Port Elizabeth. Tsolekile is also in the squad, though it appears South Africa may now look beyond him as the reserve wicketkeeper - a role de Kock can also perform. De Lange took 7 for 81 on Test debut two years ago but has since struggled with injuries.
"I am delighted that we recently signed a new Heads of Agreement with SACA," the CSA chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, said. "As expected, negotiating player terms that include earnings will always be challenging, but I was really pleased with the positive and mature way in which the negotiations were conducted."
The 17-man list did not include Kallis' name, as his contract was specially drawn up. Kallis retired from Test cricket after the Boxing Day Test against India but hopes to be involved in the 2015 World Cup. "We are well aware of the incredible stature of Jacques and his personal desire to play in next year's ICC World Cup," Lorgat said. "We want to help him as best as we can."
The new list includes eight players given two-year deals, although CSA did not specify who the recipients were. SACA said it was happy with the reduction in the number of contracts, because the average number of players to represent South Africa on an annual basis is 17.
CSA contracted players for 2014-15: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe