Essex have agreed to release Andre Nel one match early so that he can take up a deal with the Mumbai Indians in the IPL. Nel was due to end his stint after Sunday's match against Middlesex, but the defeat against Kent on Friday was now his final game for the club.
He is the second overseas player to leave county cricket at short notice to join the IPL following Brad Hodge's sudden departure from Lancashire after receiving an offer from the Kolkata Knight Riders. However, unlike the Hodge move, which hasn't gone down well at Old Trafford, Essex are fully behind Nel.
"The club has given its full backing to Andre with his request to leave after the Kent game on Friday," the chief executive David East said. "It is an honour for Essex to have players in their ranks who are attracting the attention of those teams competing in the Indian Premier League.
"We thank Andre for all his efforts during this latest stint with the county. Once again he has proved a very popular member of our dressing room and has played his part in the team's excellent start to the campaign."
Nel said on the Essex website: "I would like to thank Essex in granting my request to end my time with them early, in order to take up a contract with the Mumbai Indians. As always, I have enjoyed my stay with Essex enormously and the excellent way I continue to be treated by the club bodes well for our future relationship should I get another chance to return."
This was Nel's third spell with Essex, having also featured for the county in 2005 and 2007. He appeared in three County Championship and three Friends Provident Trophy matches in 2008, picking up 10 wickets at 34.10 in four-day cricket and three wickets at 37.33 in the FP Trophy to help Essex to second and top spot in the respective tables.
Nel will join the Mumbai Indians, under the captaincy of Sachin Tendulkar, on Sunday. He could be back in England later in the season if selected for the South Africa tour, although he was controversially dropped for the recent trip to India.
The Pakistan legspinner Danish Kaneria will take up his duties as overseas player from next Wednesday when Essex begin their Championship match against Leicestershire.