In signing Dane Vilas back in 2017, Lancashire acquired an immensely versatile cricketer which he has proven time and again over the course of his stay so far at Emirates Old Trafford.
After two solid seasons Vilas was named as the new captain of Lancashire ahead of the 2019 season – and it only served to elevate his game to new heights.
Such was Vilas’ impact during his first campaign as captain, he scooped no fewer than three awards at the End of Season Awards, including the coveted Player of the Year as voted for by the Club’s Members.
In a word, his season was nothing short of astonishing. Captaining every game as well as wicketkeeping and being a central part of the middle order, Vilas oversaw an unbeaten First-Class season and promotion back to Specsavers County Championship Division One, as well as runs to the knockout stages of both white ball competitions. That is something he is desperate to improve upon over the coming years.
In List A cricket, Vilas smashed 166 off just 100 balls to record the highest individual score in Lancashire’s history. It almost culminated in the Club’s highest List A chase, falling 12 shy in a chase of 418 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
He was just getting started in what would be the summer of a lifetime for the South African.
Vilas grabbed the headlines in the Specsavers County Championship match at Colwyn Bay, putting Glamorgan to the sword in scoring a magical 266, the 15th highest First-Class score for the Red Rose. It was one of two centuries, the other coming against Sussex at Emirates Old Trafford, in a 1,036-run First-Class season.
In T20 cricket, he chipped in with 259 runs at a strike rate of almost 150, often injecting the innings with impetus towards the end.
But it was his leadership in all formats which really shone, with Director of Cricket Paul Allott hailing it as ‘exceptional’.
South African Vilas, who plied his trade with Ashwell Prince’s Cape Cobras franchise before moving to the Dolphins for 2017/18, has enjoyed success with bat and gloves in both red and white ball cricket. He is also an exceptional slip catcher and ground fielder.
He has added significant experience to the Red Rose squad having played six Test Matches for his country in 2015 and 2016.
His opportunities at Test level were limited by the emergence of Quinton de Kock, with his last appearance for the Proteas coming against England at Johannesburg in January 2016.
Although he did not need to take the gloves in his first season with Lancashire, Vilas has since been handed the gloves and worked tidily behind the stumps.
In his first season, he scored two tons in the Royal London One-Day Cup, against Worcestershire at Emirates Old Trafford and away at Durham.
In all he scored 408 runs from eight appearances with two further fifties. As a result, he was named as Lancashire’s One-Day Player of the Year.
He struck 235 not out against Somerset in the 2018 Specsavers County Championship, one of three First-Class centuries in the season, and he was handed the captaincy following the end of the season.
A hard-hitter of the ball, he has a notable strike-rate of just above 127 in the shortest format.
Vilas seems to be a man of many talents, with him appearing in the film Hansie in 2008. The film was about the life of former South African captain Hansie Cronje.
He was cast as fast bowler Allan Donald by producers, who wanted to add authenticity to on-field scenes by using real-life cricketers.