Andrew Gale, Yorkshire’s first-team coach, has described the winter signing of Duanne Olivier on a Kolpak deal as a one-off that will give the county all the benefits of an international-class fast bowler without the drawbacks of an overseas player.
Olivier is set to make his first-class debut for the White Rose against the students of Leeds/Bradford MCCU on Sunday, having called time on an emerging Test career with South Africa at 26 for the financial security of a three-year county contract. This switch provoked consternation about the latest South African to exploit the EU loophole – not least having taken 24 wickets in a breakthrough three-Test series against Pakistan during the winter – and only increased further when Olivier said that, long-term, he is now looking to qualify for England via residency.
But Gale maintains Olivier’s recruitment is simply a pragmatic response to the squad’s needs – they have lost Jack Brooks to Somerset and Liam Plunkett to Surrey – and that international cricket often leaves the club without their England stars or curtails the availability of overseas players.
“I don’t think people can question our credentials in terms of bringing young English players through,” Gale tells the Observer. “[Olivier] is a one-off to help our home-grown players. The average age of our squad is now 25. We have a good crop of seamers and this is about taking the burden off them over a long season.”
Gale once used “Kolpak” pejoratively during his playing days, landing a four-match ban in 2014 for abusing Lancashire’s Ashwell Prince with the term. But he claims this was simply a regrettable incident rather than a reflection of his views, having himself benefited from four years alongside another Kolpak in Jacques Rudolph. “I haven’t always been a fan of Kolpak players,” he says. “Some are only slightly better than the English player they keep out. But if you can bring one in who is the complete package, it does add value. Jacques is someone who helped my game immensely. I’m hoping Duanne, who is a wicket-taker at 90mph, will have the same effect now.
“Signing overseas players is a minefield, too. We had Kane Williamson last year, who had his time reduced. And look at Durham: Cameron Bancroft misses their first game because he has to attend a dinner. You’re at the beck and call of the boards or franchise cricket. We have struggled for continuity of selection, especially with England call-ups. So Duanne is like an overseas but with three years guaranteed.”
Yorkshire have left their one championship overseas spot vacant and will enter the market only for a “trump card” should the team fail to fire during the first part of the season or injuries strike. It would not, however, be Steve Smith, despite Headingley being one ground where the returning former captain could acclimatise before the Ashes should he not make Australia’s World Cup squad.
“We have had no contact with Steve or his agent,” Gale says. “I’m happy with what we’ve got and we won’t be giving him throwdowns. The chief executive [Mark Arthur] has said we won’t have Aussies here before the Ashes, too. We would only sign one if they weren’t in their Ashes squad and were free until the end of the season.”
Stardust instead comes in the form of Joe Root for the opening weeks, while Gale is optimistic Adil Rashid will make good on his recommitment to first-class cricket even though rehab on a shoulder injury rules the leg-spinner out of their initial matches away to Nottinghamshire, starting this Friday, and then Hampshire.
It is Gale’s third season since swapping captaincy for coaching and after successive fourth-placed finishes the 35-year-old is looking upwards in the table, even if he is keen to play down the title expectations that he calls “a given” in Yorkshire. Just one relegation spot should free up more of the eight Division One teams.
A collapsible batting lineup in recent times – one that has relied a touch too heavily on the run-harvesting of Gary Ballance – now has the recently hired Paul Grayson to call on as a specialist mentor, something Gale accepts has been needed. “I have a fantastic relationship with players in pre-season but as soon as team sheet is announced, it changes slightly,” he says. “The batting group need someone to open up to – a young player may want to not show weakness to the head coach – so they need someone in their corner. Paul’s experience will help me too.”
As for his own ambitions, Gale is keen to join the staff of the Headingley-based team in the Hundred, for which Darren Lehmann has been tipped as head coach. Gale added: “I spent part of the winter shadowing the coaches at Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash and I’d love to learn from another head coach [in the Hundred].
“But if not, it excites me the 50-over competition is being played at the same time. We might lose 10 first-team players, so we will be handing Yorkshire debuts to 16- and 17-year-olds. That fills me with a lot of energy.”
Source link : https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/mar/30/yorkshire-duanne-olivier-kolpak-andrew-gale
Publish date : 2019-03-30 12:00:00