Cricket South Africa official Corrie van Zyl said that the alarming trend of players opting for county cricket over the national team has forced the board to think about the long-term contract for its cricketers.

The former South African pacer and interim coach, who is currently the Director of Cricket at CSA, admitted that the board is serious about retaining its talented players, most of whom are taking the Kolpak route to play English county cricket.

The Kolpak deal, named after Slovakian handball player Maros Kolpak, allows players from countries which has free-trade agreement with any European Union member nation to play professionally.

Since 2004, South Africa has had the maximum representatives of Kolpak players around the world. In recent times, pacers Kyle Abbott in 2017 and Duanne Olivier in 2019 hurt the national team.

“What the reasons are for some of the players that signed the Kolpak deal is best known to them.” Van Zyl was quoted as saying by PTI. “I can’t speculate as to why they would want to do that. What is important for Cricket South Africa is to ensure that we can retain our best players.”

Van Zyl, a former pacer who had played two ODIs for South Africa, said that his board is working on tying down players with long-term contracts.

“Central Contract is one aspect. We are looking at longer term contracts and long term service-incentive schemes. We are making sure that within SA cricket fraternity, we try to understand where the players stand. So it’s a combination of number of factors,” he said.

Last year, South African pace great Morne Morkel, who took the Kolpak deal after announcing international retirement, had warned the country’s cricket establishment to have proper communication channel with players to clarify where they stand in terms of selections and safer contracts.

“The structures are in place to prevent good players from leaving the country. That is what we are focusing on. One of the success factor is to ensure that we retain our young talent as retention is important for any team. We at CSA are putting in measures to ensure that we are addressing concerns of our players,” he said.

The South African selection policy currently has a clause, where on an average, there has to be five players of colour in the playing XI of every match. The transition phase for South African cricket is on currently after a dismal World Cup and India is one of the more challenging places to tour in such circumstances. Van Zyl, though, is confident that his team would come up trumps.

“Obviously, it’s transition in terms of new players coming through but we still believe we are here to win. Although the team is transitioning from a personnel point of view, we have the skill and ability to compete on the field,” he said.