South Africa captain Faf du Plessis is backing former national team-mate Duanne Olivier to return to Emerald Headingley next season a stronger force having found his feet in county cricket through 2019.

Fast bowler Olivier was Derbyshire’s short-term overseas player last year, but the summer just finished was his first full campaign in England having signed a three-year Kolpak contract in February.

The 27-year-old was Yorkshire’s leading Specsavers County Championship wicket-taker with 43 scalps, including two five-wicket hauls.

At the weekend, Olivier tweeted: “Not the season I personally wanted, but I will come back stronger.”

And du Plessis, who played against Yorkshire at Headingley last month as Kent’s overseas player – and was dismissed by Olivier, agrees.

He said: “Duanne’s probably best on quick wickets, but look at the one we played against him on. It wasn’t quick. But he still got five wickets, showing his skill.

“If you get him on a quick wicket, he will blow your head off.

“The majority of wickets in England aren’t quick, which brings a Darren Stevens into it much more because there’s so much lateral assistance.

“In time, having found his feet, he will be great.”

There was huge disappointment in South Africa when Olivier opted to retire from international cricket and sign for Yorkshire.

Du Plessis, however, is a former Kolpak himself having played for Lancashire in 2007 and 2008 as a young up and comer, and he has no problems with Olivier’s decision.

“When he finished with South Africa, he was man of the series against Sri Lanka. He bowled unbelievably well.

“But in his mind I think he’d made his decision six months before to come to England.

“He’s in a period of his career where he’s on top of his game, and he would have played a lot for South Africa had he stayed, especially Test cricket.

“He has everything to do well consistently at the top level. I don’t think he needs much more, which is great news for Yorkshire given this is where he is.

“He’s always had the pace and good bumpers. But in his last six months of international cricket, he was changing his grip to get more seam on the ball.

“That’s going to be very effective for Yorkshire.

“I can definitely understand why he made the decision.

“There are a few reasons why guys take the Kolpak route from South Africa now. But it’s usually your players who are only playing one or two Tests, those who don’t regularly feature in the team.

“Dane Vilas is a good example. It makes sense to come over here and get security.

“For Duanne, it’s a little bit different. He was at the peak of his own game having waited for a long time.

“It would have been a much harder call for him, but it made sense at the time because there was a lot of bowlers around, Dale Steyn, Kagiso (Rabada), Lungi Ngidi.

“Right now, there aren’t so many. Dale has retired, Vernon Philander isn’t going to play for much longer.

“We don’t have as many bowling resources as we had say two years ago.”

Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale added: “I think D’s done ok, but there’s certainly more to come.

“He’s still our highest wicket-taker in Championship cricket.

“His white ball stuff, he’s been disappointed with.

“But I think he’s added a different dimension to our attack and got better as the season went on. His line and lengths adapted to English conditions after, early season, being a bit short.

“He’s work in progress, but we have someone on our hands who could be a real success.

“Someone who bowls 90 mph in county cricket is hard to come by.”

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