CAPE TOWN – “Massive blow!” That’s how Cape Town Blitz coach Ashwell Prince described the withdrawal of ace fast bowler Anrich Nortje from the remainder of the Mzansi Super League.
Nortje’s loss, though, is not just a “massive blow” for the Blitz, but also for the tournament as a whole. With the Mzansi Super League still in its early stages, and fighting every inch to create a foothold in the South African market, it desperately needs every success story that Nortje was fast developing into.
The 25-year-old had become an overnight sensation for his ability to perform the most sought-after commodity in cricket: bowl fast! In fact, Nortje was helluva fast, pushing the speed gun up to 150km/* at various times. And he was not just blitz - pardon the pun - but accurate too, rattling the stumps of seasoned Proteas such as Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma in the process.
Avid followers of domestic cricket would probably have heard of Nortje before. They would even have realised that he had actually played for the SA A team during the winter, but the Mzansi Super League was entirely different. It placed Nortje on a platform that he had never experienced before.
Here he was being watched by 3.4 million viewers - according to the SABC’s statistics for the first four matches of the tournament - and not just the scorers at St George’s Park, where The Uitenhage Express routinely turns out for the Warriors in first-class cricket.
“I was really keen to play the whole tournament. I obviously had a good start. Unfortunately it is something that I need to do. It is massive blow to me for the exposure that I got through the tournament,” Nortje admitted yesterday after it was revealed that he required surgery on a troublesome ankle.
Prince, though, knows the show must go on with the Blitz’s next stop being Centurion for a re-match with the Tshwane Spartans tomorrow. The Blitz trounced the Spartans in the tournament opener at Newlands a couple of weeks ago.
“The campaign has been for some people ‘another day, another dollar’. But for me it’s been ‘another day, another challenge’.” Every day you wake up, there’s another challenge. We have had players obviously away with the Proteas and couldn’t join us until a certain time, then you had (Dawid) Malan who was the captain for the first couple of games go away with (Mohammad) Nawaz to Abu Dhabi, and then you had the other Pakistani guys come in.
Asif (Ali) didn’t arrive for the first game, he could only play from the second game. So, we just take it all in our stride. Another day, another challenge,” Prince said.
The Blitz have replaced Nortje with Highveld Lions left-arm seamer Nandre Burger, who will be available for tomorrow’s clash at Centurion.@ZaahierAdams