Remember this name, in the otherwise gloomy and rather disastrous showing by the Proteas who have been tamed by the more sensible and street-smart England.
It wasn’t too long ago when I sat befuddled watching live proceedings at the Wanderers on my TV. Little wonder why the medium is often referred “Idiot Box,” for there were moments where the fan in me wondered if I was being an idiot in hoping for a turnaround.
So I said to myself, “In a day or two, the Proteas would have all but lost the home series 3-1 with them being 6 down in the first innings and not even reaching 100 in reply to the mammoth 400 set by England in the first innings.”
But yet, amid the unsettling gloom amplified by poor batting but brave bowling, there was something different. It offered the great respite a Protea fan may have so longed for.
While everyone else in the South African outfit has been struggling more so the batsman, Anrich Nortje has been making quick bowling his forte taking 16 wickets the highest on either side.
In the end, it wasn’t that hard to undo the exceptional effort the burly pacer showed. Not only did he bowl the most overs than any of his teammates in the first inning, he captured 5 wickets when it seemed the English top 3 were ready to make the Proteas toil.
But is that all? Fifers are common, aren’t they? It’s Test cricket, after all.
But look closer, lend a careful eye to capture the beauty that often lies in small details. Anrich Nortje found a way to unsettle Joe Root. This wasn’t just the captain.” Root had troubled South Africa for 108 balls during his defiant 59.
Of the top four who made South Africa feel every breath of anxiety, experience every drop of sweat, for 541 collective minutes, Root alone accounted for 176 of those.
The next man in- well, no ordinary bloke but the “man of the series”- Ben Stokes found himself walking back 10 balls after he arrived.
That man again, Anrich Nortje. But by the end of Day 4, you only wish the South Africans would’ve carried the game onto Day 5, Anrich Nortje walked back with the team, all sullen and perhaps, if you are a Protean, not hard to believe also clueless.
England’s win was but a matter of time. But Nortje didn’t leave the field before removing nearly a third of all English wickets that fell at Johannesburg.
The Wanderers is a legendary venue in the firmament of South African cricket. And Johannesburg is a grand venue. Well, it was ideal that there was someone making a grandiose effort albeit in a not so grand outing for the home team.
But Nortje’s rise hasn’t been all that easy.
Hailing from the eastern province of South Africa and playing for the Warriors, Anrich Nortje has been quite successful since making his debut in 2016. He was picked by the Cape Town Blitz in the inaugural Mzansi Super League bowling alongside the great Dale Steyn. He then got a chance for the proteas one day outfit against SriLanka where he picked 8 wickets and was then included in the World Cup Squad. Unfortunately, before the onset of the World Cup, he got injured and had to be replaced by the effervescent Chris Morris.
He was then included in the Test tour of India and had a hard realization how tough it is for seamers to bowl consistently well on the subcontinent pitches where the likes of Philander and KG also struggled.
Since then he has managed to turn it around by not only being the best bowler on either side in this England series but also giving his all in the batting department with hi epic proportions of the blockathon.
Along with Rassie, who has been a good find in the batting department for the Proteas, these 2 should hopefully fly the flag high for the proteas in the years to come.
As for now, the English are braaing on SA and it will be a miracle if we can turn our fortunes around in the limited-overs leg.
From a true fan who always believes in the Proteas, all the very best, you sure as hell need it.