The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a wonderful platform for rather unknown commodities to make it big in their careers. Many cricketers in the past have first succeeded in this league and then went on to make it big in their International careers. One such curious cases who seems to be grabbing a lot of attention ahead of the IPL 2019 auction is South Africa's Hardus Viljoen.
A broad-shouldered, tall and strong fast bowler, Hardus Viljoen is an excellent pacer who is only getting better as he ages. The brutal bouncers that he unleashes without any prior indication is considered to be one of his biggest strengths. He has got a lot more variations in his armoury which often outfoxes the batters. Apart from all of these, he is an absolute miser with the ball and bowls extremely economical spells which is great for T20 cricket.
With his flattering performances in the T10 League 2018, Viljoen, all of a sudden, has got most of the IPL franchises to have a good, close look at him. His success in conditions similar to the ones in the subcontinent will be a great encouragement for the franchises to bid for him. Also, it would an added advantage if the IPL is shifted to South Africa, where he understands the pitches in and out.
Here are five facts about Hardus Viljoen:
1. Born on 6 March 1989
Hardus Viljoen was born on March 6, 1989. The pacer is now 29 years old and will turn 30 by the time the next season IPL begins. He was named Gerhardus C Viljoen. Later on, he was nicknamed as Hardus Viljoen later on. Apparently, his middle name, 'C' doesn't stand for anything, which is usually a common practice among the Scots-Irish.
2. A highly experienced cricketer with loads of wickets
Viljoen has played a lot of First-class, List A and T20 cricket and has accumulated good expertise in all the formats. He has accounted for more than 500 wickets but was unfortunate to not have made it to the South African team as much as he would have liked. Hardus has featured in 113 First-class games thus far. He picked up 438 wickets in as many games at an average of about 27 and a strike rate of 45. 15/170 are his best figures in a First-class game while he has picked 8 wickets in a single innings.
In T20 cricket, the 29-year-old played in 87 games. Including one five-wicket haul, he picked 98 scalps at an average of about 25 and an economy rate under 8 which is great in the shortest format. Furthermore, he also has 127 wickets in 92 List A games.
3. Contemplated moving to New Zealand before making his Test debut
Despite the consistent performances in domestic cricket, Viljoen was ignored by the national selectors for a long time. His control or the lack of it over the ball was cited as one of the reasons for his absence in the national side. This even forced him to ponder over a move to New Zealand to pursue his career at one point in time. But, he decided otherwise and worked hard on his game to be a much better bowler.
Viljoen topped the bowling charts in 2014-15 domestic season with 47 wickets at an average which was just above 23. This forced the selectors to sit up and take note. During the summer of 2016, when the Proteas bowling attack was plagued with various injuries, Viljoen was became the management's choice and made his debut against England in the third Test of the series.
4. Dream start in the international arena
Hardus Viljoen finally got his opportunity in the third Test against England in 2016. He couldn't have asked for a better start to his career as he had records tumbling straightaway. The pacer hit a boundary off the first ball that he faced in his international career. With the ball he got off to a cracking start as he picked up the prized wicket of the then England captain, Alastair Cook, who was his first victim in the first innings. He fell for 18 runs after he edged one which carried to the keeper.
He became only the second cricketer to achieve this double on debut. New Zealand's M Henderson did this first in his country's first Test ever. However, Viljoen failed to carry forward the momentum and returned with figures of 1/94 and 0/15 in that game which South Africa eventually lost.
5. A Kolpak cricketer
After this performance, Hardus lost his place in the national team. He wasn't picked in the XI for the fourth Test of the series. The Proteas won this match even though they ended up losing the series 2-1. After this, the pacer went back to playing for South Africa A and other domestic teams. He kept churning out great performances one after another.
However, he was never called back into the national side after this. With very limited opportunities at the highest level, he fell bait for the Kolpak deal. In December 2016, he signed a 3-year deal with Derbyshire and bid adieu to Cricket South Africa. He also plies his trade in various leagues around the world at the moment. Viljoen played for the Multan Sultans in Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2018 and is playing the T10 League 2018 at the moment in UAE.