South Africa’s Wayne Parnell has signed a new three-year contract with Worcestershire that could signal the end of the 29-year-old all-rounder’s Proteas career.

Parnell has not played for South Africa in nearly a year and was sidelined with injury in December.

By agreeing what is known as a ‘Kolpak’ deal with Midlands side Worcestershire, he has effectively agreed to being classed as a home player and not a member of the county’s overseas contingent.

That status that would no longer apply if Parnell played for South Africa while still under contract at New Road.

Parnell decided to spend the next several years with Worcestershire while helping them win English cricket’s Twenty20 Blast at Edgbaston on Saturday.

“This is probably the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my career,” Parnell told ESPNCricinfo.

“It’s a very difficult decision and I am fully aware and understand the pros and cons of it.

“I am still young and I have plenty to offer to any environment that I’m in. 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.”

He added: “The reality of life is that that goals and aspirations change all the time and it seems the Proteas have moved past me since I’ve not really had any communications since I had my injury. 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.”

Left-arm paceman Parnell played six Tests between 2010 and 2017, with best bowling figures of four for 51 against Sri Lanka. He also appeared in 65 one-day and 40 T20 internationals

He has taken 16 wickets in four County Championship games for Worcestershire this season, including four for 23 against Hampshire.

Several South African players have given up their international careers for the security of what are often more lucrative county deals, with fast bowler Kyle Abbott and batsman Rilee Rossouw both now at Hampshire.

The Kolpak ruling came into force in 2003 when the European Court of Justice ruled that anyone with a work permit from a country, such as South Africa, which has an associate trading agreement with the European Union had the same rights as a European worker.

The ruling 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.

A player becomes eligible for a Kolpak deal when he gives up the right to play for his country, and is not classed as an overseas-player signing.