“Just to get this opportunity, to get out there and express yourself is really fun.”
Most of cricket’s rules are slanted towards batsmen. Most of the advancements have been geared around getting more runs, seeing more boundaries and catching the eye of the casual spectator with a striking blow.
And yet, few things capture the imagination quite as vividly as a fast bowler letting it rip. When in rhythm, there is nothing as beautifully violent as a quick man striking, and making good players look ordinary.
Anrich Nortjé (pictured) did just that on Sunday, as he lit up the Mzansi Super League match against the Durban Heat with an astonishing spell of bowling. In the process, he catapulted himself into the conversation for higher honours, both in South Africa and around the world.
“It is nice to be out here,” Nortjé beamed after the match, with much understatement. “Just to get this opportunity, to get out there and express yourself is really fun.”
There may still be some scepticism from some quarters, but the Mzansi Super League is a godsend for domestic cricketers who are yet to get on the conveyor belt for national selection.
“We always said that we don’t have a lot of massive names in our team, but everyone is doing their bit. It is very exciting to see guys having fun and enjoying it, and expressing themselves,” he said of the vibe within the Blitz outfit.
“We have a lot of local guys in our team, so they already know each other. It has been nice to come into that environment, and they are obviously in a good space, judging from how the Cobras went in the four-day competition. We have come in and are just trying to do our bit where we can,” Nortjé explained.
His bit has been rather considerable so far, with five wickets in two matches, headlined by the four scalps he claimed in Durban. That included three in one crazy over, as he tore through the Heat’s top order.
“There was a little bit in the wicket – a bit of movement. I just got it going and the ball came out nicely,” Nortjé said of his blitzkrieg.
He admits that he is loving the freedom of expression that comes with T20 cricket.
“In T20 you can go flat out, whereas in red-ball cricket, you have to identify periods in the game to try and bowl quick. It is nice to come out and just let loose,” Nortjé added devilishly.
The other reason for Nortjé’s excitement was perhaps not immediately obvious, but it is one of the cornerstones of tournaments of this nature. Nortjé, 25 years young, was sharing the stage with his idol, Dale Steyn.
“It is a dream come true. He has been my hero since he started.
“I have always looked up to him, so it is unbelievable to be in the same team,” Nortjé gushed.
“I am just looking forward to the next few days and weeks, to try and get as much from him as possible.
“He is a world-class bowler, and I just want to learn.”