Kirk Wernars has announced he is to take a break from cricket and will not be available for Sussex for the 2013 season.

The 21-year-old allrounder, who joined Sussex in 2011 and signed a new contract at the end of last season, is to take a year's break from the game and will return to his native South Africa to explore career possibilities in wildfire fighting and the emergency services.

"This has not been an overnight decision and has been a very tough one to make," Wernars said. "The past two years at Sussex have been a fantastic experience for me, both as a person and a cricketer. I have learnt so much from being here and will take a lot away with me, from every person that I have come into contact with at the club.

"As much as playing cricket for Sussex has been an exciting and happy time for me, there have been parts of my life I have missed, namely being with my family and living in Cape Town.

"I believe I need to take a break from cricket for a year, during which time I wish to explore wildfire fighting and emergency services. Thereafter I hope to be in a position to have greater clarity about the long-term career I would like to pursue."

"We're really disappointed to lose Kirk both as a cricketer and as a person," Mark Robinson, Sussex's professional cricket manager, said. "As a cricketer, he really made great strides and had every chance of having a really successful summer. And as a person, he was a man of high values and high loyalty.

"We do though really respect his decision to want to be nearer his family again and we wish him every success, and hope perhaps to see him at some time in the future."

Wernars only played two Championship and five CB40 games for Sussex in 2012 and he did not feature in the FLt20 side but, by the end of the season, he had forced his way into the Championship and List A teams. He had previously represented Western Province and South Africa Under-19 but qualified to play for Sussex as a non-overseas player due to a Dutch passport.