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Harmer still has hopes of playing for Proteas

Proteas spin bowler Simon Harmer hasn't ruled out playing for the national team again, despite having signed a Kolpak deal with Essex County Cricket Club.

Proteas spinner Simon Harmer. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Proteas spin bowler Simon Harmer hasn't ruled out playing for the national team again, despite having signed a Kolpak deal with Essex County Cricket Club.

Harmer is one of a several Proteas to have put pen to paper on a Kolpak contract, which allows them to play in the United Kingdom as a non-overseas player but bars them from playing international cricket. Others to have made the decision include seamer Kyle Abbott and batsman Rilee Rossouw, who signed four-year and three-year contracts respectively with Hampshire.

Harmer, however, signed a one-year contract and says he hopes to add to his 5 Test caps in the future.

"My intention has always been to play for South Africa, it's not a door that I see as closed. My Kolpak deal is only for a year, so come the end of that, I think my options are still open. It's not ideal that I've been put into the category with the guys that have signed four-year deals because as I explained to (Proteas coach) Russell Domingo when I did it, the reason behind me signing was to make myself a better cricketer, to come back as a better cricketer than when I left. My heart will always lie with the Proteas and ultimately you want to be playing international cricket, so it's definitely not a door that I see as closed," Harmer said.

The 28-year-old says that his decision to go the Kolpak route had less to do with the financial rewards and more to do with being given the opportunity to play more cricket.

The current quota system in South Africa's domestic franchise competitions rules that teams must field at least six players of colour and Harmer admits that, as a white player, it makes it increasingly difficult to get selected.

"There's obviously been quite a few guys that have signed and have been seen as the "black sheep" of South African cricket. A lot of the media attention has been about how lucrative it is. I don't think that's necessarily the case. I think it's more about fair competition and playing for eleven spots in the team because I think currently, you're playing for five spots.

Harmer explained that the county contracts also offered far more security than the national contracts in South Africa.

"The current national contracts only run for twelve months and I think only the top five or six players get two-year contracts. It's obviously not ideal that South African cricket is losing the likes of Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw but I think you can understand their thinking, setting themselves up and being offered a four-year deal, which is four years of security," he added.

Harmer made his Test debut for the Proteas in January 2015 against the West Indies in Cape Town. He has taken 20 wickets in five Tests at an average of 29.40, with best match figures of 7/153.

He leaves in the middle of March to join Essex, with the county season beginning in April.

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