Nortjé intent on not going anywhere slowly

27 March 2019 - 12:37 By Telford Vice
Anrich Nortje of South Africa during the 4th Momentum ODI match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at St Georges Park on March 13, 2019 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Anrich Nortje of South Africa during the 4th Momentum ODI match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at St Georges Park on March 13, 2019 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Image: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images

The logic seems simple — take your foot off the gas if you want to keep your arm in the attack.

Anrich Nortjé begs to differ: “There are enough medium pacers in the world‚ I don’t want to compete with them.”

Nortjé and his 150 kilometre-an-hour missiles have blazed a trail in the 11 games he has played in the past four months‚ lighting up the Mzansi Super League (MSL) and then South Africa’s one-day series against Sri Lanka.

Thing is‚ he could have played 26 more matches in that time‚ 17 of them for South Africa‚ and taken who knows how many more wickets than the 19 he claimed.

An ankle injury that required surgery ended Nortjé’s MSL after three games and removed him from the selection equation for South Africa’s Test and one-day series against Pakistan as well as the Tests against Sri Lanka‚ albeit that he probably wouldn’t have been in the frame for the red-ball stuff because of the quality of the incumbents.

He made his debut in the ODIs against the Lankans and was in the squad for the T20s but missed all three with a shoulder problem that will take six weeks to heal.

The silver lining is that it has taken Nortjé out of the mix for the Indian Premier League‚ but isn’t that his body telling him it isn’t coping with what he is asking it to do?

“I’ve been bowling the same way for a few seasons now with no injuries so the two I had recently is part of the game; it’s sport so injuries will occur.”

He should be back in action by the time the World Cup starts on May 30‚ and it’s more probable than possible that his name will be among the 15 Linda Zondi announces on April 18.

How hard is it for him to think about anything else?

“Yes‚ the World Cup squad is something big‚ but I’m just trying to focus on getting back to full fitness and to try and be better and stronger when I get back.

“With some extra strength work and one or two technical corrections I would like to hit 150 kph in most of my games when I get back and improve one or two things from a skills point of view as well.

“So for now I'm focused on how I can improve and not too much on what others control.”

Plainly‚ what Nortjé is not thinking about is taking things as slowly as some folks do in his hometown of Uitenhage.

Did growing up in a smaller community help him develop a better sense of himself and his strengths — which‚ unusually for a modern professional‚ have earned him a B Com — than if he had been part of a more metropolitan milieu?

“It’s difficult to say as I don’t know how I would’ve been as a player if I was in a bigger city‚ but what I know is that I’m clear on what I want and where I want to go.

“That’s the most important thing for me to have as a player.”

On a clear day in places like Uitenhage‚ you really can see forever.

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