Paul Harris has a career-defining decision to make after the South African selectors called him into their Test squad to play against India.
The 28-year-old Warwickshire spinner must now decide whether to follow his boyhood dream of playing international cricket, or take the more secure and lucrative option of remaining at Warwickshire.
He cannot have it both ways. Harris signed as a Kolpak registration mid-way through last summer and would no longer be eligible if he represented South Africa. He could then only return to Edgbaston as an overseas player.
That is an unlikely scenario. Not only do Warwickshire already have the maximum two overseas signings for 2007 in Martin Love and Heath Streak, they are also exploring the possibility of signing an Australian fast bowler. That would require Streak to become a Kolpak registration and leave little room for Harris.
It is worth noting that Claude Henderson, another South African spinner registered as a Kolpak player in county cricket, declined the selectors' invitation before they approached Harris. Nicky Boje, the previous South African spinner, retired suddenly last week citing the selectors’ treatment as the reason.
"We won't stand in his way," Warwickshire’s chief executive Colin Povey said last night. "If he decides he wants to play for South Africa, we will wish him all the best.
"But I do hope he thinks about his long-term future. He is flavour of the month [with the South African selectors] at the moment, but a few weeks down the line they may change their mind and he may find himself in a difficult position.
"The position hasn’t really changed from when he joined us. He was concerned about the quota system in South Africa and talked about qualifying to play for England.
"I’m certainly not ruling out the possibility of signing him as an overseas player, but he understands that his position here would be jeopardised if he plays for South Africa.
"But of course it’s his dream and we understand that. He’s always been honest with us and he made a superb impression last season. Whatever he decides, we’ll support him."
At present, Harris has only been named as one of two spinners in a 15-man squad. But if, as is likely, he does play for South Africa in the next few weeks, it will mean Warwickshire have lost four first-team members since the end of the season. Nick Knight (retirement), Mark Wagh (Nottinghamshire) and Moeen Ali (Worcestershire) have already departed.
"The call came out of the blue," Harris said. "At 28, I thought my chances of playing for my country had passed. I am thrilled at the opportunity Warwickshire have given me and would like to thank them for their part in this upturn in my career."
A special ‘thank-you’ should be directed at Jonathan Trott. It was Trott who recommended Harris to Warwickshire last summer and started a chain of events that resulted in this call-up.
It has been a remarkable 12 months for Harris. Little more than a year ago, he was almost unknown in South Africa but, after being the leading wicket-taker in domestic cricket last season, he made an immediate impression in county cricket.
Originally only in England to play club cricket for Fleetwood, he answered Warwickshire’s call for help when Daniel Vettori was injured and set a club record by claiming four five-wicket hauls in his first four Championship matches.
* The Edgbaston Cricket Shop has launched its "biggest ever sale" and will stay open to 7pm until Thursday.
* How much of a blow would it be if Warwickshire were to lose Paul Harris? Tell us your thoughts at the messageboard.