Burger’s comeback proof of the warrior in him

Nandre Burger has made a great impression in the IPL with the Rajasthan Royals, claimed five wickets after three matches. | IANS

Nandre Burger has made a great impression in the IPL with the Rajasthan Royals, claimed five wickets after three matches. | IANS

Published Apr 3, 2024


Ongama Gcwabe

It is not often possible to draw parallels between a four-time World Cup- winning team and one that is yet to win a major international trophy.

However, in the case of the Springboks and the Proteas, there is one common denominator in the narrative behind the national selections of Nandre Burger and Manie Libbok, to single out one Springbok.

Nandre Burger has made a great impression in the IPL with the Rajasthan Royals, claimed five wickets after three matches. | IANS

In Springbok documentary Chasing the Sun II, the Bok assistant coach, Mzwandile Stick, explained how they opted for “warriors” in selecting the 2023 World Cup squad and that Libbok’s rise embodied that principle in how he showed perseverance having emerged from Humansdorp, a small town in the Eastern Cape.

In Burger’s case, the road to international cricket has been full of challenges and has seen the fast bowler endure a season-ending lower back injury during the 2021/22 campaign, among a number of other setbacks.

Since then, Burger has gone on to pick up 17 wickets in his first international series, when South Africa hosted India over the summer across all formats.

It makes for a remarkable turnaround that Burger was able to use only one season on returning from injury to earn his maiden international debut. Additionally, his journey is one that highlights the “warrior” in him, the same trait that the history-making Boks looked for in their players.

Over the past two weeks, Burger has been playing in the 17th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), having been picked up by the Rajasthan Royals during the auction in December.

Many would crumble under the pressure generated in the jam-packed cauldrons of India, more so during their debut season. However, Burger has hardly shown any signs of being phased by the occasion. Instead, the 28-year-old has bowled faster, much more accurately and shown only growth in the three matches that the Royals have played thus far.

Bowling alongside teammate Trent Boult will only improve Nadre Burger’s skills. | IANS

The 10 overs that Burger has bowled have been full of dot balls, a feat that is extremely difficult to achieve anywhere in the world, let alone in the most competitive league in T20 cricket.

The game time that he is being awarded by the Royals will do him and the Proteas a world of good. Moreover, the fact that he regularly takes the new ball alongside Trent Boult, a seasoned international, is invaluable.

Boult, the 2015 and 2019 Cricket World Cup finalist with New Zealand, might not have the blistering pace he possessed in his early days but he still has the lethal skill of swinging the new ball both ways.

Bowling in tandem with Boult, both in the nets and on matchdays, will see Burger return home with additional skills in his repertoire, skills that will turn him into a complete bowler.

With the T20 World Cup set to start in two months, South Africa will bask in the comfort of watching Burger, if selected, at the top of his mark ready to unleash the 150km/h thunderbolts he is known for.

Burger’s impressive form will force Proteas white-ball coach Rob Walter to make tough decisions seeing that most of the country’s top fast bowlers might be available for selection for the T20 showpiece.

George Coetzee of the Mumbai Indians. | IANS

Anrich Nortje has returned from injury and is currently with the Delhi Capitals while Cricket South Africa expects Lungi Ngidi to return to play in the CSA T20 Challenge this month after the Capitals released him due to injury.

Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzee and Kwena Maphaka are also competing in the IPL and will give Walter a good headache next month when the coach needs to hand in his preliminary World Cup squad.

BURGER’S IPL STATS THUS FAR: 3-0-30-1 v Lucknow Super Giants; 3-0-29-2 v Delhi Capitals; 4-0-32-2 v Mumbai Indians

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