Cape Town - Proteas fast bowler Anrich Nortje is happy to be feeling "like my old self again" after coming through his first competitive match in almost a month on Thursday.
Nortje, who missed the entire home summer and last played international cricket for the Proteas back in November at the T20 World Cup due to a back and hip injury, bowled with good pace and control for the Delhi Capitals in their Indian Premier League clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The Uitenhague Express delivered four overs for 35 runs and picked up the big wicket of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.
It was much a better outing than when he was rushed back at the beginning of April in the match against the Lucknow Super Giants. Not only was Nortje smashed to all parts by his Proteas teammate Quinton de Kock - three consecutive fours and a six in one over - but he failed to finish his spell after being hauled out of the attack after just 2.2 overs for bowling a second waist high full toss.
Nortje was much more assured on Thursday - both in terms of trusting that his body would hold up and hitting his line and lengths - after working the past month at training with the Delhi support staff.
"Just a relief to be out on the field to be honest. It's just nice to be playing again, nice to be in rhythm," Nortje said.
"You need to be sort of realistic. It's been a while [not] playing a game and just bowling in the nets. Getting out playing a game is completely different. Since the last game it's nice to just build it up, try and remember what I did at certain stages, how I felt, certain angles."
Nortje, who was the only Protea to be retained ahead of this year's Indian Premier League auction for the princely sum of R12.5million, stated he almost had to start from scratch upon his return.
An absolutely pumped @AnrichNortje02 celebrating the big wicket of Williamson takes our @bolt_earth Supercharged Moment of the Match⚡🤩#YehHaiNayiDilli | #IPL2022 | #DCvSRH#TATAIPL | #IPL | #DelhiCapitals pic.twitter.com/gVVHh51HWp— Delhi Capitals (@DelhiCapitals) May 6, 2022
"I'm quite a basic guy so getting those basics right is quite important for me. So since the last game, I was just working a lot on rhythm and now I need to focus on a bit of skill but it was nice to be back out there and feel like my old self in a way," he said.
Nortje's return to play is a major boost for the Proteas ahead of their bumper winter tour to England where the 28-year-old is expected to play a prominent role across the formats.