Cape Town - Duanne
Olivier likes a lot of bowling.
He said as
much as he went to some lengths on social media to explain his tumultuous
decision this week to sacrifice a booming Proteas Test career, aged 26, to sign
a three-year Kolpak deal with Yorkshire in county cricket.
READ: KP weighs in on shock Olivier Kolpak deal
reminded that he is well aware of the fairly widespread theory, rightly or
wrongly, that he should be pigeon-holed primarily as a Test rather than
white-ball international player ... something that would have dramatically
slashed his activity for the South African national team if gradually proved a
valid phenomenon in selection, of course.
increasing age of free agency by superstar cricketers worldwide, many of whom
are willing to cut short their Test careers to a pronounced degree as all manner
of counter-attractions jump out at them, the Headingley money will certainly
have “talked” to Groblersdal-born Olivier.
already being reported that he stands to earn some three times - in
significantly stronger pounds - what he would have done in rands had he stayed
in the Proteas fold for roughly the corresponding period of this deal.
professional person, sporting or otherwise, that sounds like an irresistibly
tempting job, a means to enormous security in uncertain economic times for many.
don’t ply their trade forever and fast bowlers are at a greater risk than any
of breakdown, too, given the peculiar physical demands of their specialist task.
observations are not intended to sound too overtly like a justification for the
big call Olivier has made - if you are at very least “disappointed” by it, be
my guest - but at the same time they are near to beyond dispute.
may be another reason, possibly a more influential one than some have
considered, for one of the sensations of the Test landscape in recent weeks
quitting while he is so spectacularly on top (reminder: 48 wickets from 10
Tests, 2017-19, average 19.25).
It is that
the Proteas, without an enormous amount of associated dissent (a sign all of
its own?) are gradually headed more and more into the margins, whether
involuntarily or not, when it comes to volume of five-day activity by them.
In coming to
his almost certainly much-agonised decision, Olivier is quite likely to have
looked at what’s looming roster-wise on the short- to medium-term radar for
South Africa and just wondered how many Tests he would actually be guaranteed
to start in.
it: the Proteas’ next scheduled engagement on the ICC’s Future Tour Programme
is a three-Test series in India much later this year.
pitches are going to be even a little like the sort of dustbowls they were
asked to operate on during the ill-fated (3-0 defeat) last series there in
2015/16, then the maximum requirement may well be two seamers in the XI, with
two frontline spinners and perhaps a couple of tweaking part-timers doing the
great bulk of the donkeywork.
back-of-a-length main strength (though he is just a little under-rated for
pitching it up, mind) hardly jumping out as a prime asset to the cause in India:
Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn, even at this long range, appear more obvious
selections for quite probably limited pace duty - or certainly until reverse
swing becomes a late-game factor at times.
READ: Olivier to earn up to R2.7m per season in England
So his next
real crack in the format might well have come when the Proteas entertain oldest
foes England as main attraction of the 2019/20 home summer.
correction: ONLY attraction of the season ... at least when it comes to Test
matches, as things stand on the calendar.
Bear in mind
also that the South African pipeline in fast-bowler development, either raw or
more seasoned, still pumps reassuringly furiously. There will always have to be
scope for rotation; shuffling of resources.
series aren’t added, the Proteas will play just the four Tests against the
English, making it one of their skinniest home summers in the format (Australia
are due to visit for white-ball purposes) of the post-isolation era.
READ: Would SA's Kolpak XI beat the Proteas?
South Africa - supposedly among the “big four” global powers, remember - are
down to play no series of more than three-Test duration until the completion of
the current FTP in 2023, and several of a dubious mere two.
every likelihood you will see all of England, India and Australia play more
Tests up to that year ... which would only really extend a hallmark already
evident since the Proteas’ last series against England, away in 2017.
period subsequently, England have played a further 23 Tests, India 20 and the
Baggy Greens 19: the Proteas bring up the rear with 17.
to Cricket South Africa, they will know all too well that white-ball cricket,
broadly speaking, best brings in the boodle, and we’ll see plenty of those two
forms of the game from the national side in the next few months and years,
special comfort to a guy like Duanne Olivier.
have been no special comfort ...
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