Cricket news - Piedt quits South Africa to pursue career in USA

Piedt picked up 26 wickets in 9 Tests for South Africa.

Piedt picked up 26 wickets in 9 Tests for South Africa.

In an era of Kolpak defections and players retiring to become travelling T20 mercenaries amid predictions of a dire future for cricket and cricketers in South Africa, Dane Piedt has found another way out. "To new beginnings," he tweeted on Friday (March 27) alongside emoticons of a US flag and clinking champagne glasses. His post included a photograph of him, a pen poised above a document, and a nearby celebratory measure of bubbly.

Piedt has signed a contract to play in the new Minor League T20 tournament in the US planned for the coming northern hemisphere summer. What the global coronavirus pandemic will do to those plans remains unknown, but the blueprint, announced in February, promises an event that will stretch across the country with teams in 22 cities. Piedt has a choice of basing himself in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Seattle, a decision he has yet to make - although the fact that some of his favourite basketball players are LA Lakers stars might be instrumental in settling on where he establishes his new home.

At 30, he has called time on a Test career in which he took 26 wickets in nine matches, the most recent of them against India in Ranchi in October. But Keshav Maharaj, who debuted more than two years after Piedt, has played 30 Tests and has nailed down his place in a team that rarely picks more than one slow bowler. Tabraiz Shamsi has made a strong claim to be Imran Tahir's successor in the white-ball formats. Nobody needed to spell out the writing on the wall for Piedt, who told Cricbuzz on Friday: "Those guys have done well, and they're of the age where they're only going to get better."

Rarely for an off-spinner, Piedt is an attacking bowler who bristles with variations. Also unusually, he has managed to become among the most respected as well as one of the most popular players on South Africa's domestic scene, which made him a sound choice to captain his franchise, the Cape Cobras, at first-class and one-day level. He won 18 of his 46 games in charge, and lost 14. In 2018-19, he took 54 wickets at 27.74 in 10 matches in the first-class competition, claiming five five-wicket-hauls and two 10-wicket-hauls in the process.

Those who might want to criticise his move should know that "I didn't go looking for something else - this offer came to me". And that he could have gone years ago: "When I was 26 I turned down a Kolpak offer [from a county he declined to name]. If I had agreed to that deal I wouldn't have got the opportunity to take 54 wickets for the Cobras last year."

For Piedt, moving to the US is a positive development and not part of the negative narrative that can seem to have entrapped cricket in South Africa. "I can go to a country that's looking to improve their cricket and I can be part of that," he said. And they are lucky to have him.