Abbott, Rossouw Dump South Africa For Hampshire

South Africa coach Russell Domingo has hit out at Rilee Rossouw after the top-order batsman joined Kyle Abbott in signing a Kolpak deal with Hampshire.

Rossouw, 27, and fast bowler Abbott, 29, have effectively ended their international careers after signing respective three and four-year deals with the English county.

Cricket South Africa announced it had terminated Abbott’s national contract by mutual agreement and with immediate effect, and that it was in the process of following a similar process for Rossouw.

Abbott faced the media after South Africa’s Test victory against Sri Lanka in Cape Town on Thursday to explain his decision but Domingo revealed Rossouw had only informed CSA about his decision via email.

Domingo told a press conference broadcast on Cricket South Africa’s Twitter feed: “We got an email off his iPhone yesterday telling us he has signed Kolpak. He spelt my name wrong for starters – he put one ‘l’ instead of two. So that’s where we are. I’m very disappointed in him.

“He toured Australia as the back-up Test batsman, he was the next batsman in. He’s played in most of the one dayers and a lot of T20s. He’s a guy we backed after five noughts (early in his international career).

“We said this is a guy who can play the closest level to AB de Villiers in the one day teams. We invested massively in him and we’re very disappointed in his decision.”

Left-hander Rossouw had released a statement saying: “Deciding to leave South Africa is something I have thought long and hard about and moving to England will give me and my family the long-term career security that I believe is important at this stage of my life.

“I have loved representing the Proteas and will watch from afar with great affection every time they take the field from now on but I am hugely dedicated to making Hampshire cricket successful on the field.”

CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat had said in a statement that it was “a disappointing day not just for South African cricket but also for international cricket”.

In the press conference, he added: “If somebody gives up their right to play for the Proteas I’m afraid there’s not much more we can do. We invest huge sums of money in every individual and we take Rilee by way of example. The last I don’t know how many months we’ve been treating his injuries and investing in him and sadly there’s no return for us in the year to come.”

Rossouw had played 51 times across the two shortest international formats but had yet to make his Test debut.

Abbott, who previously played for Hampshire as an overseas player in 2014, made 10 Test appearances alongside 28 in one-day internationals and 21 in T20 internationals.

Abbott confirmed he made his decision five months ago and added: “There were a couple of evenings when I went to sleep thinking, ‘have I made the right decision?’ but I’ve always woken up the next morning going, ‘actually I have’.”

“I don’t think anyone can question my commitment to South Africa. If I wasn’t committed I would have done this a long time ago.”

South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis was disappointed with Abbott’s decision.

He said: “I care so much about him and I want him to play well for South Africa, I want him to do well, I want him to perform on the biggest stage in the world because I feel he’s an amazing cricketer and there’s no better place to do it than play international cricket.

“We did get together, spoke to Kyle, tried to change his mind, but Kyle’s already set up exactly what he wanted to do.”

Du Plessis confirmed the Proteas would look to the future for the third and final Test against Sri Lanka which starts on January 12.

Du Plessis said: “I want him playing for South Africa but, moving forward, he’s not going to be part of our team so if he’s not going to be part of our team, I think it’s time to move on.”

A player becomes eligible for a Kolpak deal when he gives up the right to play for his country, meaning he is not classed as an overseas player signing. The Kolpak ruling ensures players from any nation with a trading relationship with the European Union can freely play as a professional.

The ruling, made by the European Court of Justice in May 2003, originally related to Slovakian handball player Maros Kolpak who was released from his German club because of a quota on non-EU players. He claimed it was unfair and the court ruled in his favour.

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