South African speedster Wayne Parnell has signed a three-year Kolpak deal with county side Worcestershire, effectively bringing the curtain down on his international career.
Off the back of Worcestershire’s 2018 Vitality T20 Blast triumph, the 29-year-old has described the decision as the "toughest" of his life and follows in the footsteps of several South Africa-born Kolpak players in English county cricket, including Morne Morkel, Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw.
The left-arm pace bowler last represented his country in October 2017 against Bangladesh but missed out on a national contract earlier this year. He played six Tests, which were spread over seven years since his debut against England in early 2010, plus 65 ODIs and 40 T20Is. He also took the most wickets in the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy.
"This is probably the toughest decision I've had to make in my career," Parnell told ESPNcricinfo. "Of course this wasn't an overnight decision, it's a very difficult decision and I am fully aware and understand the pros and cons of it.
“I have always enjoyed playing for my country since making my debut. I'd like to thank everybody who has supported me through thick and thin – my family, my friends.
"Special mention must go to the Eastern Province and Warriors unions for taking a risk and giving a kid from the dusty streets of Booysen Park a chance play this wonderful game. To all of those people who dislike me for whatever reason I thank you as well, you've helped make me mentally and emotionally tougher."
Parnell has been mulling over the decision for almost a year in a time where he had fallen out of favour at international level and had been battling injury. "After my serious injury in January I had three to four months out and really had time to reflect and think about what I want for the rest of my career going forward," he said.
“It was a very tough period in my life emotionally and mentally as it could potentially have been a career-ending injury and my wife was heavily pregnant with our first-born son, so I had a lot going on. You can't really predict the future, so you try and formulate and plot a plan and see how it unfolds."
Parnell is excited about what lies ahead in his domestic career but concedes that he is unlikely to replicate the buzz of the international arena.
"I am still young and I have plenty to offer to any environment that I'm in," Parnell added. "I have played more than 100 games for my country in all formats and 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.”
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