South Africa legend Allan Donald has issued a public plea to Morne Morkel not to give up on international cricket, with reports both the fast bowler and star teammate Hashim Amla are weighing up their futures.
An increasing number of South Africans have controversially turned their backs on playing for their country, instead opting to take up lucrative ‘Kolpak’ deals to play county cricket in the United Kingdom.
Fast bowler Kyle Abbott and batsman Rilee Rossouw – who both signed for Hampshire earlier this year – have been the two highest profile players to effectively end their international career.
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ESPN last week suggested Warwickshire was one of numerous counties pursuing Morkel, while South African news site Independent Online reported Amla had also been approached by UK domestic teams.
But, with a home Test series against Australia looming early next year, Donald stressed that Morkel was desperately needed by his country.
"Don’t reconsider your future. South Africa needs you," Donald said in reference to the towering 32-year-old.
"Your performances against England in the Test series were the best I have seen you bowl in a very, very long time."
Turning his attention to South Africa's selectors, Donald told the Titans website: "Give him what he wants. Let him retire on his terms. We need him this summer. I have not seen him bowl this well for many, many seasons.
"There’s no doubt, Morkel is world-class. It is just a shame that he did not take bucket loads of wickets in England because he deserved it.
"He beat the bat on countless occasions without reward."
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While the Proteas have lost numerous players to Kolpak contracts over the past 12 months, losing the likes of veterans Morkel and Amla would be a telling blow, despite the pair’s advancing years; Morkel turns 33 later this year and Amla will be 35 next March.
Amla is statistically among the greatest one-day batsmen ever, while Morkel, who topped the Proteas' wicket-taking tally in their recent 3-1 Test series defeat to England, looked to have rediscovered some of the pace and bounce that has made one of the most highly rated bowlers in the world.
Last month, Morkel admitted his more-than-a-decade-long international career – which has yielded 76 Tests and more than 150 limited-overs matches – is "nearly finished".
"After this tour we'll see. I'll speak with Cricket South Africa and see where they see me featuring," Morkel told ESPN.
"I love playing for this team. But it's not rocket science that they probably want to start looking, in white-ball cricket, at the 2019 World Cup.
"Am I going to part of those plans? If I can be around to help the younger guys find their feet, so be it. I'll do that.
"For me the main focus is this tour and then we'll go back and see how we go."
The term 'Kolpak' is named after Slovakian handball player Maroš Kolpak who won a ruling in 2003 that gives anyone with a work permit from a country which has an associate trading agreement with the European Union the same rights as an EU worker.
The looming implications and uncertainty surrounding UK's 'Brexit' vote to leave the EU, as well the strength of the pound compared to the South African Rand, are seen as the major reasons behind the growing exodus of cricketers from the Rainbow Nation.
In December, The Guardian reported that former Test batsman Stiaan van Zyl's deal with Sussex was worth around three times what he would earn for his South African domestic side, the Cobras.
Kolpak players are ineligible to play international cricket for the duration of their contracts.