By Guy Williams, The Cricket Paper

Yorkshire’s new South African fast bowler, Mat Pillans, 27, from Pretoria, was a largely unknown, if not an obscure figure, when he was surprisingly signed last August after three years at Surrey where his opportunities were strictly limited because of serious competition with the new ball.

Now, though, as befits his trade, Pillans’ circumstances are changing quickly as he emerges from the shadows. The departure of pace bowlers Jack Brooks and Liam Plunkett to Somerset and Surrey respectively, and the probability that Matthew Fisher will miss the start of the campaign as he recovers from a back injury, has thrust Pillans into the spotlight.

So, after playing only four Championship games for Surrey in 2016, and four in Division Two for Leicestershire in 2017 when on loan, the tall and articulate South African, who is England qualified from next month because of a Scottish grandfather and a grandmother from Surrey, suddenly has a genuine opportunity to play regularly in all three competitions and to add to his one Championship appearance for Yorkshire last September.

“My pre-season is going really well and I don’t feel like the new kid on the block. I’ve been working with Yorkshire’s bowling coach, Richard Pyrah, on my accuracy, so it’s been exciting for me to see my bowling make progress,” says Pillans who has taken 129 first class wickets, mainly in South African provincial matches.

“My aim is clear: I want to be able to push the 90 mph mark consistently. That’s something I’ve also been doing with Richard. The aggressive side, too, is most important to me when I’m bowling. You’ve got to have an in-your-face attitude and that’s what Director of Cricket, Martyn Moxon, and First XI Coach, Andrew Gale, have been encouraging.

“I love everything about Yorkshire and it’s not just the cricket. My wife, Cara, and I have moved to Ilkley and it’s been amazing to walk on the moors, so I’m feeling more relaxed.

“At Surrey, you had the hustle and bustle of city life in London, but now I’m calmer and that’s important for me as I develop as a professional cricketer.

“I’ve been impressed with the talent in the Yorkshire dressing room. The quality is here as you would expect from a club with such a rich heritage. The competition for places is perfect for any up and coming cricketer because it pushes your skills to be the best.”

Pillans’ goals are set out ambitiously. However, significantly, it’s his speed that has excited Yorkshire’s coaches.

“Mat’s probably the quickest bowler we have on the staff at the minute,” according to Gale.

“He has raw pace and he can bowl at 85 mph plus. He has a few technical things to work on to allow him to pitch the ball up and swing it.If he can do that, Mat will get wickets in any format.

“We have big hopes for him being a success in all three formats. Mat has a good record in white ball cricket, particularly bowling at the death. That’s his bread and butter.”

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