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Next stop London for Nortjé?


As the South African team walked off the field, still completely comfortable with the target they were about to mow down

Anrich Nortje of South Africa celebrates the wicket of Oshada Fernando of Sri Lanka during the 2019 One Day International match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Supersport Park Stadium, Pretoria on 06 March 2019. Picture: ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

SOUTH Africa have one game left before they must settle on their World Cup squad.

As they lead the five-match series, and any combination within their squad looks completely capable of mopping the floor with Sri Lanka, the hosts have a job deciding which 11 to play.

Not that it matters for the result.

Had South Africa been more ruthless in Port Elizabeth, the final analysis might have read “won by nine wickets”, chasing 120.

They allowed Sri Lanka to rise to 189 through a combination of poor lengths and some generous late fielding.

“That wasn’t part of a plan,” Anrich Nortjé said of his last two overs, which disappeared for an unbelievable 38 runs. “It was the wrong length, and I maybe should have changed it,” he admitted.

As the South African team walked off the field, still completely comfortable with the target they were about to mow down, Faf du Plessis put an arm around his newest fast bowler and had a few words.

It was about those last two overs, Nortjé (pictured) confirmed. Lessons were learnt, and the best ones are often absorbed best through some pain. If he didn’t already know it, he saw again how much smaller the margins are at the highest level.

“I know what has got me here, and I will keep doing those things,” he maintained.

He was chuffed with his three scalps, and any nerves he might have had were dispelled by his pace in his opening spell.

“I’ve not heard the band that loud before,” he said of his home crowd.

Nortjé will have mostly happy memories about his first international game on his home ground.

He took wickets, his team won, and there were friends and family in the stands.

All summer, he has been rearranging his cricket dream furniture, as he ticked boxes that he figured would take a while yet.

In that time, he has also learnt a bit more about himself and his game. South Africa see the speedster as a potential fourth weapon of pace destruction in the World Cup. He has hurtled into the reckoning late, but he had come in like a bullet train.

The next stop for the express service may yet be London.

Just six months ago, the only “London” Nortjé considered for matches was the small city located a two-hour drive away from Port Elizabeth.

Amazing how quickly things change.