Ken Borland

By Ken Borland


Duanne Olivier back — and among the wickets at the Wanderers

“It’s always nice in Johannesburg because it’s more suited to fast bowling."

Fast bowler Duanne Olivier is playing in four-day South African domestic cricket for the first time since February 2019, when he took four wickets in the Proteas’ infamous second Test loss to Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth, when the tiny island nation became the first subcontinental team to win a Test series here.

He then added to the sense of shock in South African cricket at the time by taking a Kolpak contract to play in English county cricket for Yorkshire. Olivier did play in the Mzansi Super League for the Jozi Stars at the end of 2019, but with the Kolpak door now closed, the 29-year-old should be back in the local game permanently.

Olivier was named in a powerful four-man Central Gauteng Lions pace attack on Friday in their CSA Four-Day Domestic Series match against the North-West Dragons at the Wanderers, and was in fine form, taking four for 50 in 14.2 overs. And it wasn’t just all fire and brimstone either, there were clearly intelligent plans at play too.

As a fiery strike bowler, Olivier is always expected to take wickets and be the spearhead of a successful team. Certainly in English county cricket, he will be looked to by Yorkshire as the overseas pro who will win them matches and get them into contention for silverware.

Despite fairly modest returns of 75 wickets in 25 first-class games for Yorkshire at an average of 32.42, Olivier has been signed as an overseas pro through to the end of next season.

The owner of an excellent Test record of 48 wickets in 10 matches at 19.25 will have the same level of expectation from the Lions, especially since their home base of the Wanderers is ideally suited to his high-energy, high-impact bowling that can drag life out of most pitches.

Olivier said he is loving the pressure that is on him to perform.

“I always feel pressure because I am always trying to do well for the team. I actually enjoy it, it’s a part of the game and it helps a lot that in the UK, you are also always under pressure,” Olivier said on the eve of his Lions debut.

“This is a different structure now in South African cricket, which means there is different pressure, and I will embrace that. Every year is a challenge, with different ups and downs, and every year I just understand my game a bit better.

“Obviously cricket is performance-based and if you take wickets then it looks like you’re making an impact, but for me it’s about the process and how well I have bowled.

“It’s always nice in Johannesburg because it’s more suited to fast bowling. But I will just try to keep it as simple as possible. What I’ve achieved before is irrelevant, it’s three or four years since I last played at the Wanderers, and it’s a fresh challenge,” Olivier said.

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