Duanne Olivier is still the big talking point after he decided to sign a Kolpak deal. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Lack of short-form opportunity – and not money, as has been speculated – appears to be the real reason for Duanne Olivier’s decision to sign a three-year Kolpak deal announced on Tuesday.

Sources close to the player argued this week that Olivier is annoyed that he has been labelled a red ball specialist who has been given few international opportunities in either 50-over or T20 cricket.

His decision to sign for Yorkshire is an attempt to take the matter in hand.

Fast-bowlers are mindful that they only have to bowl four overs in T20 cricket and are further aware of the fact that playing international T20 cricket is the quickest route to the IPL promised land. Olivier feels he hasn’t been given enough consistent opportunities for South Africa in the abbreviated forms, only having played two ODIs for the Proteas and never having appeared in the green and gold in a T20 international.

His exposure to T20 leagues elsewhere in the world has therefore been limited.

Those close to him point out that he had a very good Mzansi Super League (MSL), helping the Jozi Stars to the inaugural title in an attack featuring Kagiso Rabada and Simon Harmer, but his national opportunities in the shorter forms have been limited – a matter of deep frustration for the player.

“CSA have got to boost the numbers,” said a source. “They don’t want to do it in the Tests because that’s such a magnifying glass, so they’re giving players like Junior Dala and Lutho Sipamla opportunities in the T20s.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think Sipamla is a rising star – but there’s no way that he’s better than Olivier, [who is] one of the form fast-bowlers in the world at the moment.”

While CSA are juggling with the racial numbers across all three formats, their exasperation in Olivier’s case is palpable. They released an unprecedented press statement on Tuesday in which both Thabang Moroe (CSA chief executive) and Ottis Gibson (national coach) were quoted as saying they were “disappointed” with Olivier’s decision, particularly in light of the fact that the parties have been talking to one another throughout the season.

While several meetings took place between the player’s agent, Weber van Wyk, and CSA, money appears not to be the answer to understanding Olivier’s move. One cricket community insider told Rapport, the Afrikaans weekly newspaper: “When you add up incentives, portions of the revenue-share model and bonuses offered by CSA the two salaries are pretty much the same. The speculation about Duanne earning substantially more as a Kolpak is off of the mark.”

CSA’s disappointment had been further deepened in Olivier’s case because the new Memorandum of Understanding negotiated between CSA and the SA Players’ Association (SACA) has put some checks and balances in place to try and prevent a repeat of the Rilee Rossouw and Kyle Abbott Kolpak situation of a couple of years ago. “We’ve now got an individual player management system in place with CSA,” says SACA chief executive, Tony Irish. “The players concerned and their agents will sit down with CSA in an attempt to hammer things out prior to contracting.

“Someone like Corrie van Zyl will tell the player concerned what CSA’s vision for him is and the implications of that vision are in terms of earnings.” 

CSA are not the only disappointed employers in the Olivier situation. Knights’ chief executive, Johan van Heerden, points out that Olivier, along with Keegan Rafferty and Corne Dry, were recipients of a Remgro-driven three-year bursary scheme initiated in the province in 2012.

“We had a great relationship through that project and we’ve invested quite a lot,” said Van Heerden. “I would have appreciated Duanne and his agent [Van Wyk] making an appointment and sitting down with us. We saw Duanne when the Coke Week was in Bloem a good few years back when he played for Northerns against Free State. We’ve walked a long road together.”  

In moving to Yorkshire, Olivier will be encountering one of English county cricket’s more ambitious chief executives in Mark Arthur. The former Nottingham Forest and Nottinghamshire CC chief executive is a fan of South Africans, Yorkshire having formerly tried to recruit AB de Villiers. While ambitious, the club are not the most fiscally sound, and are believed to owe millions of pounds to the bank.

Olivier, though, has made his decision, one which was announced on Instagram “as the most difficult one of his life”. Van Wyk, his agent, explained that his client has said everything he had to say in this week’s statement – and had no further comment to make. 

African News Agency (ANA)