Last month, Duanne Olivier shook hands with the Sri Lankans and walked off after a draw was called between the SA Invitational XI and the visitors in Potchefstroom.
Before he could reach the dressing room, Vinnie Barnes, Cricket South Africa’s high performance manager, cornered him.
“I told him he’d better be mentally prepared because a national call-up wouldn’t be far away,” he said.
What Olivier and Barnes didn’t expect was that it would come so quickly.
The 24-year-old quick from the Knights on Thursday was confirmed as Kyle Abbott’s replacement for next week’s third Test in Johannesburg.
Olivier, who is currently the leading wicket-taker in this season’s domestic four-day competition with 28 scalps, is understandably considered a strike bowler.
And in Potchefstroom, he did little to shed that perception.
In 20 wholehearted overs, Olivier finished with figures of 4/54 against a Test batting line-up.
Yet Barnes believe he’s a far closer to be a direct replacement for Abbott than one might think.
“Duanne’s biggest strength is that he’s a versatile bowler,” said the former Proteas assistant coach.
“He’s learnt from an early age to adapt to different conditions. It helps that he plays his cricket in Bloemfontein, where the pitch isn’t always favourable.”
It means if your team is playing on a flat surface where the batters prosper, there’s no better bowler to help maintain control than Olivier.
“Duanne has everything,” said Barnes.
“He can be penetrative and quick with the new ball, keep things steady in the middle of a match and then get reverse swing with an older ball.
“On last year’s South Africa ‘A’ tour to Australia, we played on very slow pitches and Duanne was arguably our best bowler.”
If the Wanderers pitch does warrant South Africa including four seamers, don’t bet against Olivier being more than ready to be the steady member of the attack that let’s Kagiso Rabada and co snap up the wickets.
“Interestingly, Duanne’s got a very good economy rate for a fast bowler. He really doesn’t like giving away runs,” said Barnes.
“But we’re so used to him having to perform on unfavourable pitches. I really want to see him perform on a green top that gives him assistance. That could be fun.”