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Tough decision for McLaren

Kent's Twenty20 Cup hat-trick hero Ryan McLaren will decide in the next fortnight whether to commit his international ambitions to England or South Africa.

Kimberley-born McLaren has represented South Africa at school and Under-19 level and is currently playing for Kent as a Kolpak player on a one-year contract which runs out next month.

If he remains with the Spitfires on a long-term basis he will eventually qualify to play for England.

The 24-year-old, who also plays for Eagles in his native country after a previous spell with Free State, admits he has undergone "a lot of soul searching" in considering the options.

If McLaren opts to make himself available for South Africa it could also affect his prospects of continuing to play in England as counties will only be allowed one overseas player from next season.

McLaren said: "Who are my international aspirations with? That is a difficult question at this stage of my career. International cricket is your aspiration like any other cricketer.

"At the moment I've got to make important decisions - and make them in the next two weeks. I am on a one-year contract with Kent.

"In the next two weeks because I've got to let people know from both sides, from the Kent side and people back home. I've also still got to honour a contract with the Eagles in South Africa.

"It has caused me a lot of soul searching. There are five people I tend to turn to, five people that I am really close to, when I need advice.

"The last month and a half has been a stressful time trying to work out the best thing to do."

McLaren admitted: "The experience of being over in England in county cricket has led to me learning a lot but just being in a different environment on your own has taught me a lot about life as well.

"It has been a great time and helped me to develop as a person on and off the field."

Kent skipper Robert Key is desperate for McLaren to remain with the county.

He said: "Ryan is a serious athlete. He can bowl and bat and is a serious find for us. Let's hope he stays because he can be at Kent for a long time if he fancies it.

"The Kent public and everyone here is desperate for Ryan to stay but it's not fair for me to go on about it.

"Everyone has seen what a great cricketer he is and he deserves some (international) recognition. But Ryan has got a big decision to make."

McLaren's hat-trick in the final at Edgbaston against Gloucestershire helped Kent to lift the Twenty20 for the first time and it was only their third trophy in 29 years since their golden era of the 1970s.

Only two years previously he had been helping with the covers at Edgbaston as part of the Warwickshire groundstaff after being invited to play club cricket with Knowle and Dorridge in the Birmingham League by Allan Donald.

McLaren said: "I was taking the covers on and off here a couple of years ago. It was an awesome learning curve. It was a great time over here.

"To come back two years later to win a final, get a hat-trick and be man of the match was something I never even dreamed of.

"It was Allan Donald who asked me two years ago to come over and play club cricket for Knowle and Dorridge.

"When I started my first class career in Free State, he was the captain so I managed to play with a couple of games with Allan. We formed a friendship and he is always someone I can turn to and ask a lot of advice. He is always prepared to help.

"I played some games for Warwickshire seconds but never got offered a contract but then Graham Ford (Kent director of cricket) rang me up and asked me to come over for this season and it's gone on from there."

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