South Africa’s cricketing conveyor belt has produced another quick bowler, Duanne Olivier, who could make his international debut in the third Test against Sri Lanka in Johannesburg this week. Olivier is a 24-year-old seamer based in Bloemfontein, who led the first-class bowling charts halfway through the season and was picked as a replacement for Kolpak signee Kyle Abbott. Although relatively unknown to most outside the country, he has been knocking on the door for the last few months and was South Africa’s most successful seam bowler on the A team’s tour of Australia last winter with six wickets from two matches at 29.50.
Olivier is known for his versatility which includes the ability to strike upfront, contain through the middle period and make use of reverse swing at the back end. With a Test cap on the horizon, Olivier spoke to ESPNcricinfo about his background, his bowling and his plans for the future.
Schooled at Centurion High, Olivier played rugby, as a fullback, and participated in athletics before an injury in the 10th grade made him shift his focus to cricket. He was coached by the umpire Johan Cloete but it was not all smooth sailing. A stress fracture of the back in his final school year almost derailed his career.
“My action was a bit rotated so it was causing some back issues. I did some work to make my action smoother and easier to get through. Now I am more front-on.”
At the under-19 week in December 2010, he played just two matches for Northerns, taking eight wickets at 25.25, but caught the eye of the Knights franchise and was offered a deal to study and play there. He started a degree in accounting but switched to a correspondence course in business management when his cricketing career became more serious in recent seasons.
“It was quite difficult to get a regular spot in the team because for a long time we had a lot of senior players like Quinton Friend and Johan van der Wath so I had to wait my turn. But I knew I just had to work hard and I would get my chance. I worked a lot with Nicky Boje and Allan Donald. Nicky has really helped us all with goal-setting and Allan has been good with me about developing certain game plans. I like to bowl when the ball is a bit older, I enjoy the challenge. If the wicket and condition allow, reverse-swing can be part of my game. I am really enjoying my cricket at the Knights – they have been really good to me.”
Last Thursday morning, before there was official confirmation that the Newlands Test was Abbott’s last, Olivier received a call from convener of selectors Linda Zondi, informing him of his inclusion in the squad for the third Test.
“I was quite shocked. I always wanted to play for my country but I didn’t expect it so soon. I have played with some of the guys on A tours but this is going to be a new experience for me.”
He is represented by Weber van Wyk, the same agent who secured Kolpak deals for Abbott, Rilee Rossouw and David Wiese but indicated he is not looking to go the same way.
“I want to play as long as possible for my country. When I am playing, I don’t think about stuff off the field. I haven’t considered a Kolpak deal.”
Olivier made his one other first-class match at the venue, in March last year and took seven wickets as the Knights stormed to a 10-wicket win.
“Every bowler likes to play at the Wanderers so if I get the opportunity I’m sure I will make the most of it.”