Hardus Viljoen has just come off another outstanding season for the Highveld Lions, playing a key role in their Sunfoil Series title with 39 wickets at an average of 20.43, but De Villiers told The Citizen yesterday that the 26-year-old would be travelling to New Zealand next week for talks with one of their franchises.
Although Viljoen has not yet played for the national side, he is definitely in the selectors’ thoughts, having played nine games, in both four-day and 50-over cricket, for representative A teams. The powerful fast bowler has taken 103 wickets, more than any other bowler, in the last three Sunfoil Series seasons at a superb average of 23.95.
“Patriotism is out the door,” De Villiers, who described himself as “a close family friend who has advised Hardus since he was in Standard 8”, said. “He’s been the leading wicket-taker over the last few seasons, but he hasn’t played for South Africa because of the dynamics of the team. Hardus is a very strong and very good fast bowler who can bowl at 150km/h and he will be sought after in New Zealand and Australia.
“So on April 22 we are meeting one of the New Zealand franchises to see what they offer, which is why Hardus is the only player not to have signed his new Lions contract yet,” De Villiers said.
De Villiers added that the move was not to do with quotas, but was rather designed to ensure Viljoen was remunerated properly for his ability, with English county cricket a key target.