After an impressive year of playing international cricket across all formats for the Proteas since his return from injury, there is another opportunity for Nortjé with the St Lucia Zouks in this year’s Caribbean Premier League T20 tournament on the h
ANRICH Nortjé knows more than most the value of performing when the lights are on in a T20 franchise league.
Nortjé (26) made his first-class debut back in 2013 already but the Uitenhage-born fast bowler only shot to prominence during the inaugural Mzansi Super League two years ago. Playing for the Cape Town Blitz, Nortjé charged in and rattled some of the most senior batsmen in the country on free-to-air television and was suddenly transformed into a household name.
It was, though, not only “Joe Public” and his mates watching at home that were impressed with Nortjé’s raw pace, but also the national selectors and a Proteas’ ODI debut followed shortly afterwards.
“It is difficult to make a name for yourself playing only red-ball cricket. I definitely think playing T20 cricket, the hype around it, is definitely a way to get your name out there,” Nortjé said from his home in the Eastern Cape.
“It’s not the be-all and end-all, but for me I really enjoyed my time at the Cape Town Blitz. It gave me so much opportunity after that. Even though I was playing for a couple of years, there were suddenly people asking ‘where did he come from?’ ”
Nortjé’s star shone far and wide with Indian Premier League team Kolkata Knight Riders also snapping up the fast bowler, but unfortunately due to a couple of niggling injuries Nortjé was forced to withdraw from both the IPL and last year’s World Cup.
However, after an impressive year of playing international cricket across all formats for the Proteas since his return from injury, there is another opportunity with the St Lucia Zouks in this year’s Caribbean Premier League on the horizon. The CPL is scheduled to be played between August 18 and September 10 behind closed doors in Trinidad & Tobago, subject to the permission from the local government.
“I think at the time I was trying to focus on the World Cup and put the thoughts of the IPL away. But I watched a couple of the games and I suffered during rehab again because it was just irritating me again. The CPL is definitely an opportunity to put your name out there again.
“Hopefully everything goes well,” he told Independent Media.
“I am really excited. It will be my first T20 competition outside of South Africa. I am really trying my best to stay fit, so it would be great just to get some cricket under the belt. Obviously, with the circumstances at the moment it’s a bit difficult. I am just really excited to be a part of it and play some cricket. I will be with them if everything goes according to plan and if there is no international cricket.”
Nortjé would most likely have been part of the Proteas T20 squad set to face India in August on home soil, but the three-match series is looking increasingly likely to be postponed to March next year due to Covid-19 precautions.
With the Caribbean one of the least affected regions in the world, Nortjé along with his Proteas teammates Tabraiz Shamsi (Jamaica Tallawahs) and Rassie van der Dussen (Patriots) will most likely all be heading off the West Indies. Fellow Proteas Faf du Plessis and David Miller could potentially also join the trio after the player draft.
Nortjé has some business to take care of at home first, though, after being listed as one of the Proteas Test Cricketer of the Year award nominees.
The prize-giving ceremony is set to be held via a virtual platform on July 4.
It is an incredible honour, particularly with Nortjé only making his Test debut in India towards the end of last year. After learning “some harsh lessons” on the tour Nortjé returned to finish as the Proteas’ leading wicket-taker in the home England series after claiming a brilliant maiden five-wicket haul at the Wanderers.
“To be nominated is definitely something I never dreamt of. Just to be out there with the boys whichever format it is was really special.
“Obviously Test cricket is the ultimate test, but just being out there and even afterwards seeing those special moments that you went through it really is nice to see. It really is unbelievable to be nominated. I never even dreamt of it,” he said.