County Stats (19/20 season)
South Africa-born fast bowler Mathew Pillans has a need for speed.
It is not the be all and end all for the 28-year-old from Pretoria, but he certainly gets a kick out of hurrying a batsman or two.
Upon joining Yorkshire on a three-year deal in late 2018, he admitted: “It’s one of my goals to be one of the quickest bowlers around, to push 90mph as often as possible.”
Pillans played the first of 42 first-class matches to date in 2012 for Northerns in his homeland. They play in the three-day provincial competition which then leads into franchise cricket.
He moved to play for KwaZulu Natal Inland prior to signing for the Durban based Dolphins, making his four-day debut in March 2014 against the Highveld Lions.
Pillans played alongside now ex-international quick Kyle Abbott and against current Proteas spearhead Kagiso Rabada. He also broke current White Rose team-mate Duanne Olivier’s toe with a yorker in a meeting between the two.
Pillans played 10 Sunfoil Series games for the Dolphins in 2014 and late 2015, taking 43 wickets with a best of 6-67. His last appearance came aged 24.
He then signed for Surrey on a three-year contract ahead of the 2016 summer on an ancestral visa and while encouraging in T20 cricket during 2018, he found his opportunities limited in first-class and County Championship cricket.
In 2018, Pillans was clocked as one of the quickest bowlers in the Blast, consistently reaching speeds of 90 mph plus. He took 12 wickets in nine appearances for Surrey during that campaign before joining Yorkshire in the search for more regular cricket across all forms.
He believes the fact he falls away in his action helps him be a danger with reverse swing.
Like leg-spinner Josh Poysden, who also signed a three-year deal ahead of 2019, Pillans joined Yorkshire on loan late in 2018, going wicketless on his four-day debut in a high-scoring Championship draw against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
“Mat is a bit different to what we’ve already got with that extra pace,” said bowling coach Rich Pyrah. “He’s a bit of x factor and gives us another option.
“At Yorkshire, we’ve got a lot of skilled bowlers, which you need at Headingley. But away from home, and in white ball cricket, we do need that extra pace.
“He’s not played a great deal of cricket, but fast bowlers have to have time to develop and get their body strong enough to do it for long periods.
“I think he’s at that stage now where he’s ready to play regular cricket.”
He married his fiancee Cara immediately after the season and has the long-term aim of qualifying to play international cricket for England. His qualification periods ends in 2023.
To date, Pillans, who has also played second XI cricket for Somerset, has taken 131 first-class and scored one half-century.
Two of those wickets came for Yorkshire against Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities at the start of 2019, a resounding season opening victory at Weetwood.
Unfortunately for him, it was his only red ball appearance of the summer in the first team, though he did make an impressive impact with the white ball.
He claimed 16 wickets in seven Royal London one-day Cup games, including a superb 5-29 from 6.3 overs on debut in victory over Leicestershire at Headingley. He was Yorkshire’s leading wicket-taker in the competition, claiming twice as many as any other colleague. Later in the season, he added three wickets in five T20 outings.
With a full summer in Yorkshire colours behind him, he will hope to build on a steady start in 2020.