South Africans quit national team for English club Hampshire

Sri Lanka Angelo Mathews, left, makes a run as South Africa's Kyle Abbott, center, walk during the 2nd Test cricket match between South Africa and Sri Lanka in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — South Africa's cricket team lost the services of fast bowler Kyle Abbott and batsman Rilee Rossouw on Thursday after they confirmed they signed contracts with Hampshire.

Abbott announced he signed a four-year deal with the English county less than an hour after contributing to South Africa's victory over Sri Lanka in the second test at Newlands, while Rossouw has signed a three-year contract.

Under the Kolpak ruling, cricketers are prohibited from playing for their country at the same time that they are contracted to an English county.

Cricket South Africa announced it terminated both players' contracts with immediate effect. Abbott was dropped from South Africa's squad for the third test at the Wanderers and replaced by the uncapped Duanne Olivier.

After marking his test debut with match figures of 9-68 in 2013, Abbott endured frustrating years fighting for a regular place in South Africa's side.

The second test against Sri Lanka was just his 11th outing, but was also his fourth straight appearance since fellow fast bowler Dale Steyn incurred a serious injury during the tour of Australia.

The 29-year-old Abbott, who took no wickets at Newlands, revealed he signed the deal with Hampshire five months ago, and based the decision on his long-term financial security.

"It's four years of security and playing cricket is an incredibly insecure environment for anyone," he said.

"Knowing that I've got income for the next four years, which will take me to nearly 34, is quite reassuring."

Rossouw's departure was confirmed in a statement released by CSA.

Although the 27-year-old Rossouw was yet to play a test, he was a fixture in South Africa's one-day international side, playing 36 matches.

"He toured Australia as the backup batsman so he was the next batsman in. He's played most of the one-dayers and most of the T20s," South Africa coach Russell Domingo said.

"We've invested massively in him and I'm bitterly disappointed by his decision."

Abbott and Rossouw follow in the footsteps of Stiaan van Zyl, Simon Harmer and Hardus Viljoen, who have all played tests for South Africa in the past 15 months but put their international careers on hold by signing Kolpak deals late last year.

With South Africa's currency ailing, its players have been rushing to secure county contracts before Britain's exit from the European Union closes the Kolpak loophole.

"The reality in South Africa with the declining currency is that we have got to find ways of keeping the talent within South Africa, be it professional cricketers, teachers, nurses, doctors," CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.

"It is something that we will be challenged by."

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