The aftershocks in South Africa continue a week after they were handed shocking defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka at home and as a double blow, lost Duanne Olivier to the dreaded Kolpak contract.
Cricket South Africa and Ottis Gibson will have to have a closer look not only at South Africa’s game plan but also, retention policy because not only did South Africa allow Sri Lanka to become the first Asian team to beat them in a Test series in their own backyard but also, are consistently applying defensive tactics even as they continue to suffer brain drain.
As South Africa tried to assimilate a rare Test series defeat at home and that too against a Sri Lankan team that was struggling to hold its ground, they were dropped another jolt when it was announced on social media first that their enterprising fast bowler, Duanne Olivier, had entered a three year Kolpak contract that would effectively render him unavailable to represent South Africa for at least that duration of time.
The blow is particularly impactful since South Africa had just begun to contemplate converting Olivier’s recent successes (he picked up thirty-one wickets in the last five of the total of ten Test matches he played) from Test cricket into the one day internationals format which would have included the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in June in England. Although Olivier’s stint with the national team began in 2017, his recent successes had made South Africa dream again of an all out pace quartet, particularly in home conditions, a decision that has been criticized for sometimes being one track and restrictive on the part of Gibson and the support staff as the game has undergone a sea change since South Africa’s readmission in 1991.
Cricket South Africa expressed disappointment as they had contemplated giving Olivier a two year contract although it has to be understood that the young fast bowler was already in talks and surreptitious deal making at the time of representing South Africa and before the performances that went his way. It is not easy to tell whether his recent distinction would have made him rethink his decision in light of the timing of the deal as well as the financial prospect.
From South Africa’s perspective, it throws a major spanner in the works for a team that is trying to desperately hold onto its top tier ranking without quite looking like the consistent, world beating unit. Taking another slice from the reduced pie that included the recent retirement of AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis has been left to nurture the resources at his disposal at a time when South Africa seem to be losing talented, promising future prospects such as Olivier ad Kyle Abbott before him.
While financial remunerations and the quota system in South African cricket are being blamed for South Africa’s depleted resources, while there is perceptible anger being directed at Olivier as it was at Abbot before him, there is a lot of deep reflection that must be done on the part of Cricket South Africa before it contemplates its next move when it comes to player management. For the moment though, South Africa’s headaches ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup have only compounded with Dale Steyn left to steer the ship in his senior role.