Duanne Olivier deserves a comeback cap


Olivier’s deal with Kolpak meant that his only test cap, won in 2017, is framed and proudly displayed. © Getty

In an emergency break the ice. So better, Duanne Olivier keeps a hammer close at hand. The crisis is expected to come on Sunday, when he will likely be named in the South African XI for the first test against India at Centurion.

This would be good news for a team deprived of their ace, Anrich Nortje, due to a hip injury. As well as for Dean Elgar, who will take care of a rubber at home for the first time. And for those passionate cricket South Africans who don’t indulge in petty politics and obsess over Olivier’s former Kolpak status. But for Olivier himself, the selection would be a problem.

His one and only Test cap – which he received on his debut against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers in January 2017 – should have been in the luggage he made to join the team on Saturday. Instead, it’s behind glass in a frame.

And why not. When Olivier’s three-year deal with Yorkshire was announced in February 2019, after taking 48 wickets at 19.25 in 10 Tests, he would have had good reason to believe he was out of the usefulness of his cap. That he had him framed is the best response to the miseries of social media complaining that he didn’t enjoy playing for the national team. Obviously he did – enough to proudly display his award on a wall.

Almost three years later, in which the Kolpak era has come to an end and Olivier has returned to the fold, his carefully curated pride could put him in a difficult position. Part of the tradition of Test cricket is that players are given a cap, which is why those with a long career end up wearing tattered relics. The caps aren’t meant to last a hundred games or more, as anyone could see from the ramshackle specimen Steve Waugh sported long before he played the last of his 168 tests.

What to do? Olivier would not have the right to get out of the bubble, to do what is necessary, to clean up and to come back in time for Sunday’s departure. Maybe a family member could take care of the crush and grab for him and deliver the goods? There must be a simpler, better, faster solution …

“I’ll ask if I can get a new one,” he said in a media document released by CSA on Friday. Traditionalists, whose cricket is far too cursed, would shy away from that. Who did the man think was asking for a new cap ?! Not for the first time, the joke would be on them.

The one player, one cap philosophy is not at all venerable. It started as recently as the 1990s, when he was promoted by Mark Taylor to Forge Unity. Waugh took over from Taylor as Australia captain and took the idea to new heights. Or depths, depending on your clothing sensibilities.

The truth is that players were given a new cap for each series. Despite all their mythologies about the Baggy Green, Australians haven’t always treated it as a sacred artifact. Bill Ponsford painted his garden fence with a Test cap, the better to keep his hair clean. For the same reason, Bill Lawry, the most famous of cricket fanciers, wore it when cleaning his bird pens. Theoretically, Ian Chappell should have 19 Baggy Greens. This is the number of Test series he has played in. In fact, he doesn’t have any: he hasn’t kept a single one.

You would go a long way to find people more proud to have played for Australia than Ponsford, Lawry and Chappell. But they weren’t hooked to the cap. Maybe they should have been – in January of last year, Shane Warne was auctioned off for AUD 1,007,500, which was paid to the Bushfire Emergency Services in recognition of the exceptional service they rendered during the “Black Summer” of 2019/20.

South African cricket tends to copy what happens in Australia, so the one and only cap concept has prevailed here as well. But there were exceptions. Quinton de Kock was replaced after losing the original. And if you’ve noticed Elgar looked sharper in recent series, that might be why. His old cap looked more like Waugh’s than anything you could wear without having to resort to industrial shampoo afterwards. So he got a new one.

To his line above about his cap riddle, Olivier added: “… If I play.” Of course, if he’s not chosen, he doesn’t need a new headgear. But even traditionalists would concede that’s about as likely as Warne turning down an opportunity to play Daryll Cullinan.

Olivier has been the class player in South Africa’s first class competition this season, winning 28 wickets at 11.10 in four appearances for the Lions. Regardless of Nortje’s physical form, there should never have been a debate about his game. What some have called a controversy was entirely fabricated, as badly as it was transparently. It’s eligible and it’s happening. What does the rest matter? These little South Africans who have a problem with Olivier’s presence because of their misconceptions about patriotism need to get over themselves.

“I’m very happy to be back in the squad and yes I know people will have mixed feelings about it,” said Olivier. these pressures or the criticisms that go with it. But you know when I got back I felt welcome with everyone. ”

That wasn’t to say he expected to pick up where he left off: “I’m a nervous person when it comes to playing, and if it’s my first finish I’m very nervous. -be it could be similar to a start because I haven’t played [for South Africa] for three years. It will be interesting to see what the nerves look like. But I’m sure if I’m selected to play my nerves will be pissed off. ”

Elgar spoke on Monday about the growth he has seen in Olivier’s game since moving to England. Previously, he had been a galloping batsman to a fast bowler who relied primarily on pace and court. It seems the rigors and demands of county cricket added arrows to its quiver.

“I feel like a different player,” said Olivier. “First, I’m more mature. From a cricket point of view, I truly believe I’m different. The UK has helped me a lot; just perfecting that fuller length that every bowler wants to play. For me, that is. was quite difficult because it can seem floaty and I wasn’t that consistent, I’m still working on it: I’m not going to get there every time.

“People thought I was only playing short, and fair enough: I did it. But now I feel like I have a different element in my game. It might not work out. every time, but I believe in my process, I believe in my strengths and I believe this is the best way to help the team. ”

India comes to South Africa as the top ranked test team. They are led by Virat Kohli, who has accomplished almost everything there is to accomplish in the game. Except winning a Test Series in South Africa, which Indians never have. South Africa enter the race under a series of external pressures, including those fueled by an audience divided over Mark Boucher’s suitability for his role as head coach. Boucher, who only has a level two coaching certificate, has been attacked since his appointment in December 2019. The noise reached a crescendo in July when Paul Adams said Boucher was among the players who had him. described as “brown shit” in a bandage. chamber song. Boucher’s apology was drowned out and rejected in anger.

“There will be a lot of pressure, but if we, as a team, can stick to our plans and not get carried away by outside news or anything emotional, we will be in a good position,” said Olivier. “You play against world class players, but at the same time it’s an exciting challenge. I would have to play against Kohli. It will be tough but it’s exciting. You probably play against the top four hitters in the world. It’s like making a statement to them: we’re here to compete, we’re not just going to turn around. ”

“It’s not about focusing on everything that is going on the outside. It’s about focusing on ourselves as a team and investing in our environment and the way we are doing. This is very important because when the going is tough you’re going to have to rely on your teammates. When you’re up against a wall that’s when you’re going to need everyone together. The beauty of this bubble is that you get to hang out with people. It’s good. You adapt. ”

And you break glass if you have to. Or chat with the team leader.

© Cricbuzz

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