Duanne Olivier had actually no hopes of being included in the playing squad but on the contrary here he is with a surprise recall to play for the South Africa squad. The right-arm bowler is ready for a showdown against none other than Virat Kohli.
“This will be the biggest series of my career against world class players and it’s an exciting challenge. I need to bowl to Virat Kohli. It will be tough but it will also be exciting, probably I will be bowling to one of the top four batters in world cricket,” Olivier spoke to Cricket South Africa’s media wing. For me, it will be like making a statement to them that we are here to compete and are not going to roll over. For me, it’s very important to start that first punch,” Olivier, whose sudden decision to dump the national team in 2019 had caused quite a stir.
Oliver firmly believes that South Africa can use the conditions to their advantage although all the grass that’s currently on view on the Supersport Park’s 22-yard strip won’t be there on Boxing Day. “We need to use conditions to our advantage. We can’t get carried away. It might seam and might have bounce. I reckon some grass will be shaved. With a lot of rain being forecast, it’s not ideal for preparation,” Olivier assessed.
Contrary to popular perception about the Centurion strip, Olivier feels that it will be “slow” to begin with on the first day and as the match progresses, the pace in the strip will be on ascendancy. Oliver calls himself a different player. “I am a different player. Firstly, I am more mature, more grown up now,” he said.
With no Anrich Nortje in the squad, Olivier, who started as a hit the deck bowler and now after his stint with Yorkshire is more in Vernon Philander mould, is ready to make the difference. “UK has helped me a lot, perfecting that fuller length, because it can come across as floaty and I wasn’t as consistent. I am still working on it and I am not going to get it right every single time,” he explained.
On a lighter note, he said that he would need a new baggy Test cap as his earlier one is now framed. “I didn’t expect I would be playing again. I had framed my baggy. If I am playing, I will ask for a new one. Otherwise, I will have to break the frame,” he burst out laughing.