South Africa pace bowler Wayne Parnell has signed a Kolpak deal with Worcestershire, effectively bringing an end to his international career, having just been part of the county's Vitality T20 Blast success.
Parnell, 29, last played for South Africa in October 2017 against Bangladesh and lost his national contract earlier this year. He said he has not had much communication with the selectors in recent times. However, he still called the decision to go Kolpak as the "toughest" of his life but was "comfortable and content" with his choice. It is a path that has recently been taken by a number of South Africans including Morne Morkel, Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw.
"This is probably the toughest decision I've had to make in my career," Parnell told ESPNcricinfo. "Of course this wasn't an overnight decision, it's a very difficult decision and I am fully aware and understand the pros and cons of it. I have always enjoyed playing for my country since making my debut. I'd like to thank everybody who has supported me through thick and thin, my family, my friends.
"Special mention must go to the Eastern Province and Warriors unions for taking a risk and giving a kid from the dusty streets of Booysen Park a chance play this wonderful game. To all of those people who dislike me for whatever reason I thank you as well, you've helped make me mentally and emotionally tougher."
Parnell admitted he had been considering the move for almost a year during which time he has slipped out of South Africa's teams across all formats and battled with injury.
"After my serious injury in January I had three to four months out and really had time to reflect and think about what I want for the rest of my career going forward," he said. It was a very tough period in my life emotionally and mentally as it could potentially have been a career-ending injury and my wife was heavily pregnant with our first born son so I had a lot going on. You can't really predict the future so you try and formulate and plot a plan and see how it unfolds."
Parnell played six Tests, 65 ODIs and 40 T20Is during his international career. His six Tests were spread over seven years, having made his debut against England in early 2010. After three appearances he was out of the side for four years before a brief return followed by another three-year absence.
Though he still harboured international ambitions, the serious shoulder injury in January and subsequent lack of communication with CSA has made him look to the future.
"I am still young and I have plenty to offer to any environment that I'm in," he said. "I have played more than 100 games for my country in all formats and I've loved every time I've put on the South African jersey and I'm almost certain that nothing can replace that feeling, certainly on the cricket field.
"The reality of life is that that goals and aspirations change all the time and it seems the Proteas have moved passed me since I've not really had any communications since I had my injury and then not going to India for the 'A' tours was also another indication.
"But I'm happy with that and I am comfortable with where I'm at and what I'm doing. I've thoroughly enjoyed my time at Worcestershire since joining up with them and I'm excited about my future with them."
Financially, the Kolpak deal will help bring Parnell security and he is also keen to explore the opportunities in T20 leagues around the world. He was part of the Global T20 in Canada earlier this year, and already has a deal to play in the upcoming Afghanistan Cricket League in Sharjah. He is also eyeing a spot at the PSL.
"[I have] no regrets," he insisted. "This isn't an overnight decision like I've mentioned. The goalposts for me have shifted. I'm comfortable and content with my decision and the people in my corner are all fully supportive of my decision. I can't really predict what the future holds but I'm excited by it at the same time. I've never really had the October to March window open to explore the different T20 leagues so that could potentially be in the pipeline.
"I expressed to Shahid Afridi, who was my team-mate during the Canadian T20 league, that I would love to play a professional game of cricket in Pakistan before I retire so hopefully I get to experience that in the PSL at some stage. Cricket has taken me to some amazing places and I've been lucky to meet some incredible people along the way. And the journey continues but now in a slightly different manner."