Duanne Olivier was so undoubtful he would not play for South Africa again that when he signed a Kolpak deal in 2019, he had his Test cap framed. So, what happens if baggy green No. 94 is needed later this week?
“I am going to have to ask if I can get a new one. Otherwise, I need to break the frame,” Olivier said, from South Africa’s bio-bubble in Centurion three days ahead of the Boxing Day Test against India, which should mark Olivier’s comeback.
Although he is still uncertain about his chances of being in the playing XI for the opening Test, with Anrich Nortje out through injury and Olivier leading the first-class wicket charts, he is all but certain to play.
Now that he is certain to be selected, Olivier says he will be battling butterflies once he is on his runup. “I am a nervous person when it comes to playing. Wherever I play I am always nervous. If it’s my first over, I am very nervous,” he said. “I’ll have a different feeling this time. will be different feelings. Maybe it might be similar to a debut because I haven’t played for three years. It will be interesting to see what the nerves will be like but I’m sure, if I am selected to play, I think my nerves will be shot through the roof.”
“It’s massive series. They (India) haven’t won here, so they want to come and win here and for us, we don’t want that to happen. It looked like there was a bit of grass, green grass on it and I assume they will probably take a little bit off. I reckon probably a touch slow on day one but it’s always a wicket that speeds up and the game moves forward,” Olivier said. “And there has always been a result. I don’t know when last a Test match, even a four-day game, there was a draw.”
The last drawn Test in Centurion was in 2009, against England, and there have only been three drawn Tests at the venue in 26 matches, all against the English Army. South Africa have beaten India both times they played them at this venue and will hope history repeats itself as they intend to rebuild as a Test outfit, gain points on the World Test Championship table and begin to turn the page over two years of poor numbers – two years Olivier missed.
“If we come out on top, it will mean a lot for South Africa in general, for Cricket South Africa and for players, because it’s like a make-or-break series for players,” Olivier said. “If you do well against a top team in the world, it says something.
“For me, it’s probably the biggest series I will play so, if selected, there will be those pressures. We’re playing against world class players but at the same time, it’s an exciting challenge. Like, I’ll need to bowl to (Virat) Kohli. It will be tough, but it’s exciting. We’ll be bowling to probably the top four batters in the world. It’s like making a statement to them. We are here to compete. We are not just going to roll over. For me, that’s very important: throwing the first punch, to know that you are here, you are present.”
Avishkar Govardhane is a Sports Editor and enthusiast, working here at Clout News covering the latest Cricket News.