CAPE TOWN – It is no secret Proteas coach Ottis Gibson is a fast-bowling fanatic, so it should not come as a surprise that Anrich Nortje has caught his attention.
But in a World Cup year, especially with the Proteas squad to be named in exactly a month’s time, Nortje’s elevation to the national side could not have been better timed.
The Warriors and Cape Town Blitz speed merchant initially turned heads in the Mzansi Super League with his searing pace before an ankle injury stemmed his momentum.
But now back to full fitness, Nortje is charging in for the Proteas and pressing hard for a ticket onboard the plane to England later this year. He was certainly cranking it up last Saturday in the final ODI against Sri Lanka where he was clocked at 149.5 km/hour which certainly had Gibson rubbing his hands with glee.
“I think the ODI series gave us a good look at some players. Obviously the result was quite pleasing in terms of momentum, confidence, that sort of thing going into the World Cup. We saw Nortje come in and do really well,” Gibson said.
The Proteas brainstrust has made is clear their strategy heading into the World Cup will be heavily reliant on their ace bowling attack’s ability to dismiss teams cheaply.
In order to achieve this, the bowling unit will need to comprise a host of strike bowlers who can not only achieve success with the new ball, but also during the middle period. Gibson believes the 25-year-old fits the mould perfectly.
“He has come in and played really well. Even yesterday, he bowled really well. He compliments the other bowlers really well,” the Barbadian said.
“One thing that we have always looked at when we put together a bowling unit is guys who can take wickets in the middle overs. So, bowling first change, with his pace, he is surely a wicket-taker. He has done very well.”
Nortje will have a further opportunity to impress the selectors during the three-match T20I series starting at Newlands today (6pm). Although he faces a tough battle to be included in the starting line-up for the opener at his adopted home ground, he will surely be leading the attack for the remainder of the series.
Fellow speedsters Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi will put their feet up for the final two matches of the series before they head off to the Indian Premier League where they will turn out for the Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Super Kings respectively.
Nortje will join them in India where he will be debuting for the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Proteas squad (for 1st T20I against Sri Lanka)
Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.@ZaahierAdams