Burger’s IPL experience to impact Proteas

RAJASTHAN Royals’ Nandre Burger celebrates the dismissal of Mumbai Indians’ Ishan Kishan during the IPL match. | IANS

RAJASTHAN Royals’ Nandre Burger celebrates the dismissal of Mumbai Indians’ Ishan Kishan during the IPL match. | IANS

Published Apr 3, 2024


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 stories behind the national selections of Nandre Burger and Manie Libbok (to single out one Springbok).

In Chasing the sun two, Springboks backline coach, Mzwandile Stick, explained how they opted for “warriors” in selecting the 2023 World Cup squad and that Libbok’s rise embodied the same principle in that 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 season among a number of other setbacks.

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

Thus it makes for a remarkable turnaround that Burger was able to use only one season (2022/23) upon returning from injury to earn his maiden international caps across all three formats.

Additionally, his journey is one that highlights the “warrior” in him, the same trait that the history-making Springboks coaching staff look for in their players.

Over the past two weeks, Burger has been applying his trade in the 17th edition of the Indian Premier League, his first stint in the league having been picked up by the Rajasthan Royals during the auction in December.

Many crumble under the pressure that is generated by the tens of thousands of spectators that fill-up each of the venues in India and 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.

More than half of the 10 overs that Burger has bowled thus far have been dot-balls, a feat that is extremely difficult to achieve anywhere in the world let alone in the most competitive league of them all.

The game time that he is being awarded by the Royals will do him and the Proteas a world of good. However, 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 match days, 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 150 KPH 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 quicks might be available for selection for the World Cup.

Anrich Nortje has returned from injury and is currently with the Delhi Capitals while Cricket SA expects Lungi Ngidi to return to play in the T20 Challenge this month after the Delhi 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 squad.

Burger IPL stats thus far:

1-30 (3 overs) vs Lucknow Super Giants

2-29 (3 overs) vs Delhi Capitals

2-32 (4 overs) vs Mumbai Indians