CENTURION: Duanne Olivier was recovering from COVID-19 and had suffered a mild sprain in the hind thigh, according to South African selection manager Victor Mpitsang, who explained why he was left out for the first Test against India at SuperSport Park.
The 29-year-old’s non-selection was one of the big discussion points on the first day of Sunday as India piled up 272 for three, with KL Rahul scoring 122 not out.
Olivier was the formal bowler of the South African domestic season leading up to the Test series, with 28 wickets averaging 11.10 in four first-class matches.
With his ability to scare the batsmen with quick, short deliveries, Olivier had been expected to play a key role in the test team, especially after Anrich Nortje, the country’s fastest bowler, was ruled out of the series with a hip injury. .
Olivier took 48 wickets in ten Tests before joining the English county of Yorkshire on a Kolpak contract in 2019.
When the Kolpak system was coming to an end, he became available to South Africa again.
There was no explanation for Olivier’s absence when the team was announced, nor did Olivier suggest any possible obstacle for him to play when Cricket South Africa released a recording of comments from him last Thursday.
But Mpitsang was quoted on ESPNCricinfo’s website on Monday as saying that illness and injury had meant Olivier was unable to fully prepare for the first test.
“Duanne Olivier is healthy and well, but returned a positive COVID-19 test result a number of weeks ago, which forced him to quarantine and took time away from his training,” Mpitsang told the website.
“His workload was not where the selection panel would have wanted it to be when he entered the team bubble ahead of the first Test match.
“He got a hoarding niggle during the two-day inter-squad match at the start of the camp, and the selectors did not want to risk him unnecessarily when there are two more test matches to think about.”