Cape Town - The quota system in South African cricket and greater earning potential may force
Highveld Lions fast bowler Hardus Viljoen to opt for greener pastures.
Viljoen, 26, took the second-most wickets in the domestic Sunfoil Series this past season, taking 39 scalps at an average of 20.43 to help the Lions lift the four-day title.
According to the ESPNcricinfo website, Viljoen has been in discussion with New Zealand side, Central Districts, and could consider moving there to continue his career.
Lions CEO Greg Fredericks said they are aware of the negotiations between Viljoen and the New Zealand side, but they are eager to keep him in Johannesburg, more so following the confirmation that star bowler Chris Morris has moved north of the Jukskei and will represent the Titans next season.
However, there is a quota system in South African domestic cricket and from the 2015/16 season there must be six players of colour in all starting XIs at franchise level. Three of those six players of colour, must also be African players.
While there is no official quota system at national team level, there is a target of four players of colour that Proteas coach Russell Domingo is expected to adhere to.
This makes Viljoen’s chances of making the national team very slim and a move to New Zealand may well be the right move to further his career, both internationally and financially.
Former Proteas fast bowler, Fanie de Villiers, is facilitating the talks between Viljoen and Central Districts, whose head coach, Heinrich Malan, played in South Africa.
De Villiers recently told The Citizen newspaper that he believed Viljoen will have better opportunities in New Zealand.
"Patriotism is out the door," said De Villiers.
"He's been the leading wicket-taker over the last few seasons, but he hasn't played for South Africa because of the dynamics of the team. Hardus is a very strong and a very good fast bowler who can bowl at 150km/h and he will be sought after in New Zealand and Australia."
De Villiers added that ensuring proper remuneration was also a key motivator for Viljoen seeking the move, with the Highveld Lions recognising as much, and giving their assurance that they will compensate him as best they can.
Viljoen may struggle to make New Zealand’s national team, considering he would be 31 when he becomes eligible to play for the Black Caps in 2021.