There have been plenty of South African cricketers who quit their homeland for Kolpak contracts with English counties over the past couple of decades, of course. Olivier, is the 43rd. But he is the first to be taken from the bosom of his country’s Test team, declaring a desire to pull on the England sweater.
Indignation in his homeland, following his rejection of a two-year central contract from Cricket South Africa for one of three in Yorkshire, has gone up a notch. Next week, accompanied by his wife Casey Leigh, he will arrive in Leeds to embark on a commitment to this country that he believes could see him represent England.
“I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and if you just concentrate on doing well that will take care of itself,” Olivier said.
“I don’t think too far ahead. Yes, it will be a goal to play for England one day and it would be amazing, but for now my pure focus is on Yorkshire.’
His salary at Headingley - approaching R3million - is roughly three times what he would have earned with the Proteas. The guarantee of an extra year was a bonus. Financially, it was a no-brainer. As Olivier says, “every person needs security”.
Even so, purists are shocked that he has given up the lure of Test cricket plus all hope of a World Cup place. It was, as the CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe lamented, a blow for the global game.
“I can understand that people are upset but I have not played a lot of one-day cricket, especially for South Africa or the A side,” Olivier countered.
“I made my ODI debut only this year and over those couple of games I think they were seeing what I could offer. I don’t think I would have been in the World Cup squad as they have enough bowlers.
“I realise some people will understand and some people won’t, but it doesn’t really faze me what they think.” Daily Mail