Hardus Viljoen has signed a three-year Kolpak contract with Derbyshire, ruling himself out of selection for the Proteas for the upcoming season.
As the stock of Proteas fast bowlers grew more settled in Australia, the Lions hard man has decided that his future lay elsewhere. He has one Test cap to his name, when he took took the wicket of England captain Alastair Cook with his first ball in Test cricket in January.
He joins Stiaan van Zyl, who joined Sussex, as the latest young players to take a Kolpak contract and turn their back on the Proteas.
Derbyshire head coach Kim Barnett believes that the Lions speedster can add the necessary experience to his young bowling attack.
‘It was clear last summer that we lacked a consistent threat with the ball, and we feel Hardus fits that bill. He’s a strike bowler who can bowl over 90 miles-an-hour and has experience both internationally and here in England.
‘It’s an exciting time for the Club as we regroup with a strategy that leaves the Captain and players in charge of their own destiny and Hardus will play a leading role both on and off the field,’ said Barnett.
‘Last year we were in a situation where Billy was having to go to Will as he was the fast-bowling asset, but now we have two – a senior and a junior guy in that department and it’s quite exciting.
‘Hardus will be leading the line, particularly now that we have the spin department in order with the overseas signings as well.
‘We feel we’ve now got a very competitive bowling unit as oppose to last season where we would struggle to bowl teams out. We want Billy, particularly in the four-day game, to go out with more assets in terms of bowling and taking 20 wickets.’
He previously enjoyed a decent stint for Kent in last year’s County Championship, taking 20 wickets from his four matches at an average of 19.25. In January, he became the second player in history to take a wicket and hit a boundary off the first ball of his Test career.