Anrich Nortje: The Proteas Fast-Bowler Whose Searing Pace Is Too Hot To Handle For Everyone
A thrilling contest between bat and ball, the game of cricket has often been biased towards batsmen. Over the years, fans have cherished batsmen smashing the ball out of the park and cutting a sorry figure for the bowlers. And, the modern era of the sport has witnessed power-hitting by batsmen capturing the imagination of fans. While batsmen continue to rule the hearts of fans, the art of fast-bowling remains a joy to watch.
The pure pleasure of watching fast bowlers getting the better of world-class batsmen with their lightning-fast deliveries cannot be described into words. The patience and effort to consistently bowl in the right areas to force the batsmen into committing a mistake is still a sight many hold dear. And, the ability of pacers to send the stumps cartwheeling across the ground remains pleasing to the eye.
On the back of an envious pace battery that included the likes of Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner amongst others, while many associate the best fast-bowling era in cricket to the menacing run of the West Indies through the 80s, the rise of pacers in recent times has not only brought the focus back to bruised bodies and splintered stumps, but also the ever-increasing speeds.
Clocking 150 kph at regular intervals appear to the new trend with the likes of Jofra Archer and Mitchell Starc making a name for themselves in the modern era of the gentleman's game. While not many can match their pace, a young South African appears to be hell-bent on giving them a run for their money.
Anrich Nortje might be a newbie on the international circuit, but the Proteas bowler is not new to bowling with searing pace. Having played much of his first-class cricket on the sluggish tracks of the Eastern Cape, Nortje established his reputation as a wicket-taking bowler even when the conditions don't suit him.
Having proved his mettle in domestic tournaments, the 25-year-old speedster was handed his international debut during Sri Lanka's tour of South Africa earlier this year. While those who had seen his abilities with the ball in the domestic tournament knew what was in store, Nortje impressed others with a brilliant outing wherein he claimed eight scalps from four games at an average of 18.75.
It was his bowling masterclass that saw him getting included in South Africa's World Cup squad a few months later. But, an unfortunate thumb injury during a net session quashed his dreams of making a World Cup debut. With the Proteas roping in Chris Morris as a last-minute cover, Nortje would have surely been disappointed by the unfavourable turn of events. But, the right-arm seamer appears to have returned with reinvented vigour.
Included in South Africa's squad for the ongoing tour of India, Nortje is not only making the most of his opportunities, but he's turning a lot of heads with his menacing pace. Handed his Test debut in the second match at Pune, Nortje showed great intent during the morning session of Day 1, causing all sorts of troubles for the Indian batsmen.
Using the moisture on offer to great perfection at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium, Nortje consistently troubled the opposition batsmen with the testing line. But, it was his sheer pace that caught the attention of Indian batsmen, pundits and fans alike.
pic.twitter.com/WRNBF6rQaV— Mohit Das (@MohitDa29983755) October 10, 2019
Introduced in the ninth over, the young South African clocked speeds of 143, 141, 143, 149, 148 and 147 (in kph) in his maiden Test over. In his second over, Nortje surprised Mayank Agarwal with his pace and bounce, hitting the Indian opener on the helmet. Later, he stepped on the gas and clocked speeds of 139, 147, 148, 140, 152 and 150 (in kph) in his fourth over and 141, 146, 142, 142, 152 and 147 (in kph) in his seventh over.
The right-armer was unlucky not to take any wickets at the end of the session before lunch, but his fast-bowling performance surely reminded us of the old days, where seamers once bloomed with their sheer pace. At the age of 25, Nortje might still be young but the promise in his bowling abilities is undeniably a good sign for South Africa going forward.+