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McKenzie, Peterson and Morkel gain national deals

Neil McKenzie, Robin Peterson and Albie Morkel have been upgraded to national contracts in a bid to plug some gaps identified by Cricket South Africa (CSA). Gerald Majola, CSA's chief executive, confirmed the deals on Wednesday - a month after the initial contract list was announced - as he called for South Africa to push on further.

"Although the Proteas have recently completed their most successful season, there is still room for improvement," said Majola. "After close examination of the talent available, it was felt that Neil, Albie and Robin would fill the identified gaps and should be drawn in as contracted players."

Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, and Joubert Strydom, the head of selectors, were consulted about the additions which brings the number of contracted players to 18. The trio's deals take effect on June 1 and run through to April 30 next year.

Majola added: "It was also established that their inclusion as national contracted players would not infringe on the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with SACA, nor would it impact negatively on the revenue sharing process or on CSA finances."

A CSA spokesperson told Cricinfo: "The MOU between Cricket SA and the SA cricketers' association only allows for 15 contracted players. To increase the number a recommendation had to be made by the CEO after consultation with the head coach and convener of selectors. It then had to be approved by the general council of CSA and the board of directors of Cricket SA pty ltd - the professional wing. That is why there was a slight delay in announcing the other three contractees."

McKenzie topped the Test batting averages (621 runs at 77.62) after coming in halfway through a season which included Tests against the West Indies, Bangladesh and India. His innings included two centuries and a world-record opening stand of 415 with Graeme Smith.

Peterson played in the Test series against Bangladesh and took his first five-wicket haul at this level. Morkel established himself as first choice in both ODIs and Twenty20s. His one-day batting average from the last season was 25.16, while his 19 wickets cost 30.73 apiece.