Player drain worries South African

South Africa is starting to be concerned over the player drain to English cricket.

Graham Ford, the director of cricket for Kent, and a South African, toldAFP that he is inundated by contact with South African parents who want their sons to play league cricket.

"Every week I receive hundreds of queries.

"I'm extremely concerned that so many quality players are deciding to play elsewhere. If we continue to lose so much talent it's bound to threaten our depth and it's going to be terribly difficult in the long run to maintain that same quality."

Ford is in something of a Catch 22 situation as it was when he was coach of the South African team that Kevin Pietersen emerged. But Pietersen is now firmly ensconced in England's ranks.

"A lot of people ask me how we could let someone like that go.

"I don't have an answer. I tried to keep him in South Africa but it didn't work out," he said.

"The really worrying thing from a South African perspective is that we have no idea how many other potential matchwinners we are losing.

"South Africans have a big problem regarding KP [Pietersen]. They don't want to acknowledge that this guy is an exceptional talent. Of course it's sad seeing Pietersen winning games single-handedly for England when he could be doing it for South Africa," he said.

Among South African players who will quality for England this season are Nic Pothas and Jonathon Trott, who played for Otago in New Zealand last summer.

"The lure of the pound is very strong and you can't always fight against that," Ford said.

"But there are other reasons as well.

"Disillusionment is just one of them. And then there are a whole lot of guys who simply haven't made it and are feeling sorry for themselves. It's a convenient excuse to blame the situation back home."

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