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Axed Nel tempted with ICL offer

Fiery fast bowler Andre Nel, axed from the Proteas Test squad to tour India later this month because of transformation requirements, is set to quit South African cricket.

The radical decision could come in the next 48 hours as Nel comes to terms with being left out of the 14-man squad to take on India, with seam bowler Charl Langeveldt taking the spot.

South Africa's transformation agreement, signed by selectors and senior officials, states there must be six players of colour in a squad of 14 and seven in a group of 15.

The 30-year-old Nel, who has played 34 Test matches for South Africa and taken 119 wickets, was so angry at being removed from the team on transformation grounds that he withdrew himself from Wednesday's One-Day International (ODI) against Bangladesh.

Coach Mickey Arthur was seen talking to him in the foyer of the team hotel and after a long and animated discussion, Nel changed his mind and agreed to play in Wednesday's match.

He responded with a fiery spell and took a wicket in his first over. The 33-year-old Langeveldt, who has played six Tests with 16 wickets, was added to the Test squad to join JP Duminy, Robin Peterson, Makhaya Ntini, Ashwell Prince and Hashim Amla as the required six players of colour.

Reliable sources say that Nel, who enjoys the support of the senior players in the Proteas set-up, is ready to leave South Africa and take up some financially lucrative options already on the table.

"His axing from the squad was devastating for him," Arthur confirmed.

"I had to talk him through the process and told him how important it was for him to take the field (against Bangladesh today). And though still very upset, he eventually agreed to play."

Nel, a fast bowler who fitted the new strategic planning of the Proteas management as he bowled at 145-150km/h, has two lucrative options and is known to be disenchanted with interference in team selection.

When the second auction for players by the sanctioned Indian Premier League in Mumbai took place yesterday, Nel is believed to have been offered a massive sum to participate in the rebel Indian Cricket League, bank-rolled by the giant Zee TV Network in India.

He also has a big offer to join an English County Championship team as a Kolpak (overseas) player.
Taking up either option would make him ineligible to play for South Africa again.

Nel has been threatening to join the exodus of players from South Africa to the English counties via the Kolpak route, but until now had been persuaded not to do so with promises that he would have an extended run in the Proteas Test and ODI teams.

The crunch, it seems, has finally come in Bangladesh. He was not considered for the first two Tests even though he was declared fit after receiving treatment for a hamstring strain.

Then the final blow came late last night when he was told that he would not be travelling to the subcontinent for the three-match Test series against India, which starts in Chennai on March 26.

Another player who drops out of the Test squad is Johan Botha, who was elevated as the No 1 spinner after Paul Harris withdrew on the eve of the Bangladesh trip after undergoing surgery.

But Peterson, who replaced Harris in the squad, did well in his only opportunity in the second Test and has got the go-ahead from the selectors for the three matches in India.

Veteran Herschelle Gibbs again finds himself left out of the Test equation, with his place being filled by Neil McKenzie who scored a career-best double hundred against Bangladesh in his last match, having been selected ahead of Gibbs.

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