Surrey have offered Graeme Smith, South Africa's Test captain, a lucrative long-term deal that could potentially require him to give up international cricket.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Smith has been identified by Surrey as the perfect man to lead their rebuilding process after a season that saw the retirement of senior batsman Mark Ramprakash, the death of the talented Tom Maynard and the departure of former captain Rory Hamilton-Brown. Smith would open the batting and lead the side.
It is not hard to see the attraction from Surrey's point of view. Smith, who will be 32 in February, has played more than 100 Tests and, as captain, overseen South Africa's ascent to No. 1 in the rankings. He averages almost 50 in Test cricket and scored a century in his 100th Test, against England at The Oval earlier this year.
After years on the road, a period of relative stability in London might well prove attractive for Smith too. He has recently married - his wife is from Ireland - and had his first child. But, while Smith has achieved almost everything he could have wanted as a Test player and no longer warrants selection in South Africa's T20I side, the ambition to win a World Cup remains strong.
While it is possible that Surrey would consider signing Smith simply as an overseas player and be happy for him to continue his international career, it is understood from a source in South Africa that the club are looking for a long-term option and would be reluctant to accept a situation where a player comes and goes according to the international fixture list. South Africa are scheduled to play in the Champions Trophy in England next June and then tour Sri Lanka in July and August.
Surrey declined to comment.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo; Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent