If Kyle Abbott had announced his decision to take a Kolpak contract one year ago, I suspect the news would have been met with an indifferent shrug.
He was then a bit-player, mostly carrying the drinks to Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, and getting older by the minute. His prospects were hazy. And if Steyn had not been injured, it is quite possible that he would still be in that situation.
That is now. When he took the agonising decision to take a four-year contract, there were no guarantees about his future in South Africa.
Faf du Plessis, almost in desperation, labelled this move a ‘red flag’ moment, and said that CSA must do something to stop the departure of players.
He may as well get used to the idea now: They can’t.
There is nothing they can do to stop players seeking better remuneration and job security anywhere in the world.
It applies to cricket, just as much as it does to IT, to banking, to management. Rugby has already come to terms with it; not even the threat of being banned from Springbok selection is enough to stop the exodus.
South African fans obviously want their teams to do well, with the best players available, and the decision of one of those players to turn away is seen as a betrayal. It is a betrayal only of the fans’ selfish aspirations.
The player has more pragmatic things to think about. No national team will ever guarantee a player a place or a salary, and in South Africa the situation is exacerbated by the woeful economic situation.
For CSA to secure their players enough to negate the lure of the English pound would take a massive investment. Which is why the much discussed domestic T20 league to rival the Big Bash and IPL is a pipedream. (Apart from the fact that South African fans are so apathetic that attendance at the games would need to be written into law.) They can never do it.
But on the bright side, they must realise that while they will lose good players (other top players are said to be in negotiations) there is a limit to how many South Africans an English county can take and the market will quickly become saturated.
Outside of the economic realities, there is another oppressing shadow hanging over cricket in South Africa. Players at any level cannot be guaranteed a game, no matter how good they are, because of the dynamics of the team selection. At some point, someone will have to sit out because there is no place for him, not because of his ability, but because of his colour.
And if opportunities are limited at franchise level, so too are the chances of higher recognition.
There is no guarantee that Abbott or Rossouw will play every game in England, but they will know their selection or omission is not based on a government directive. It is a reality which those who remain in South Africa have to accept. Time to move on.