Yorkshire CCC have confirmed the signing of South African fast bowler Duanne Olivier, who will join the club ahead of the 2019 campaign, subject to clearance through Kolpak regulations.
The White Rose beat off competition from a number of other counties to secure the signature of the Groblersdal-born 26-year-old.
Olivier has penned an initial three-year deal with the club and will link up with his new team-mates for the first time during the fortnight-long pre-season tour to Potchefstroom early next month.
The South African quick made his Test debut in January 2017, and has since taken 48 wickets in 10 Tests at an average of 19.25.
He is just one short of 400 wickets in the 96 First-Class matches he has played to date and was the leading wicket-taker for the Knights in 2018-2019, Cricket South Africa’s four-day franchise series, notching 27 dismissals in six matches.
Olivier said: “I came over to the UK last year and thoroughly enjoyed my time playing county cricket. I have since realised I could happily base myself there for the foreseeable future.
"I was originally looking to come back as an overseas player but when I got a long-term offer from Yorkshire as a Kolpak I knew that signing for the club would be the best option for both myself and my family. I am a bowler that wants to keep pushing myself to see how far I can go and as I enter my prime I want to be in the best possible situation to grow. Another big reason was the longevity of my career.
“I would say I’ve been in good form for the last few years. It has definitely been my most consistent period and I think my stats could attest to that. I have definitely enjoyed playing Test cricket. The Pakistan tour was by far my stand-out tour. I loved every moment of that tour. It’s definitely one I won’t forget.”
In December 2018 he took 24 wickets across the three Tests against Pakistan and was named the player of the series. He backed that up seven wickets in the two-match contest against Sri Lanka, which ultimately finished in defeat for the Proteas in Port Elizabeth.
His recent form has prompted a rise to 19 in the ICC’s Test bowling rankings.
“I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a difficult decision to make,” he added. “It’s giving up playing for my country with no guarantees of playing international cricket again. But at the end of the day, I needed to be true to myself. I’ve only got this one chance to see where my talent can take me and Yorkshire just felt right to me.
“I can be whatever type of bowler the team needs me to be. I think there is a lot of stigma around the fact that people think I can only bowl short balls because that is what I’ve done in Test matches. And it couldn’t be further from the truth. If my team has asked me to bowl short, that’s what I’ll do.
"I will fill the enforcer role if needed and sometimes the team will need me to be a backup where my job is to tire out and frustrate the batsmen so that another strike bowler may come and take the wicket. I think my strength lies in my flexibility to fill whatever role is required of me. I do like to be the guy the captain goes to when things get tough. And I prefer bowling longer spells.”
First XI Coach Andrew Gale said: “Duanne has been on the radar for a while. We’ve kept our eye on him and he’s obviously had a fantastic time over the winter in South Africa. To sign someone of his quality will be a great addition to our squad.
“We want the young, Yorkshire bowlers to come through, the likes of Ben Coad, Matthew Fisher, Josh Shaw and Matthew Waite, but at this moment in time I’m not sure they can handle the workload of playing every game. To bring in an experienced bowler like Duanne will take the pressure off them. He’s a proven wicket-taker, a man who is right at the top of his game and in great form at the moment.
“To be successful, particularly in championship cricket, you need to have seven or eight front-line seamers. Playing most of our cricket up north at Emerald Headingley, Scarborough and York this year, the pitches are going to offer a bit to seamers. We need strength and depth and we’ve certainly got that now.
“We watched him bowl for Derbyshire last year, and he did really well. To sign a guy who is right at the top of his game, in his prime is fantastic, and he will fit in really well.”
Olivier will wear shirt number 74 for the White Rose in 2019.