Cricket South Africa's transformation policy has once again cast its shadow over the national team with reports emerging that Andre Nel is contemplating leaving international cricket after being omitted from the India-bound Test squad.
"Andre has not made any decision on his future yet," Michael Owen-Smith, the South African media manager, told Cricinfo. "He's a contracted player till April. We have not been notified of anything."
Nel, currently with the one-day squad in Bangladesh, was replaced by Charl Langeveldt under Cricket South Africa's transformation policy, which mandates at least six players of colour in a 14-man squad.
Nel was so devastated on hearing of his omission that the team management considered leaving him out of the second ODI against Bangladesh in Mirpur today. Owen-Smith denied reports, however, that he refused to play the game.
"He was chosen in the XI last evening before the squad announcement was made. He was obviously down on hearing the news and the team were very concerned. They left it to him to take a final call and, after consideration, he said he would play. He's a very responsible player and showed what it means to him today."
Nel ended up taking four wickets, including two in his first two overs, a performance that won him the Man-of-the-Match award. However he didn't make an appearance at the post-match press conference, not wanting to discuss his omission. "He had endured a very emotional 24 hours and he didn't want to speak to anyone later," Smith said. "It's understandable and he didn't attend the media briefing after the day."
The selection convenor, Joubert Strydom, said he could not comment on those reports. "I don't know whether that is true or not," Strydom said, "but I would have been disappointed in Andre if he had been happy that he had been dropped."
Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, was reported as saying that he had to persuade Nel to play the match. "His axing from the squad was devastating for him," Arthur told Cape Argus.
"I had to talk him through the process and told him how important it was for him to take the field [against Bangladesh on Wednesday]. And though still very upset, he eventually agreed to play."
A row had erupted between Arthur and CSA president Norman Arendse over the Test team originally selected for the Bangladesh tour. The naming of the squad was subsequently delayed, but despite CSA's reaffirmation of its transformation policy, the squad finally chosen didn't meet the required targets.
Nel has not toured India before and has taken eight wickets in his four Tests in the subcontinent.