Anrich Nortje in relentless pursuit of the ‘missing ingredient’

RAJKOT: South African speedster Anrich Nortje says he remains a work in progress and is constantly trying to find the ‘missing ingredient’ in his bowling after coming back from a long injury lay-off. Nortje was out of action for six months after the T20 World Cup last year. He had bowled exceptionally well in the 2020-2021 IPL season before being sidelined due to a stress fracture.

Alongside Kagiso Rabada, Nortje formed arguably the most potent fast bowling pairing in the IPL. Delhi Capitals chose to retain him ahead of Rabada but when he made a comeback to this year’s IPL, Nortje was not the same bowler.

“I am still not there. I am still working on it, still trying to find one or two things. Body wise I am still not 100 percent, slowly building it up. I would probably rate myself from where I was at the end of IPL last year and the start of T20 World Cup. Still trying to get there,” said Nortje on Thursday.

Nortje was putting in the hard yards ahead of the fourth T20 International against India. He bowled at the centre wicket for a while alongside Dwaine Pretorius and spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. So, what exactly is missing from his bowling?

“If I knew exactly what it was, I would have done it (laughs). It is going to be a minor adjustment. I generally keep it simple. I am working on something at this stage and we will see how it goes. “It is not like it is completely out of shape. It is about small margins for me and I would like to get back to where I was,” said the 28-year-old.

Nortje said injury has taught him a valuable lesson. “It was hard (the comeback phase) because some of the stuff is limited. Some of the bowling is limited. You can’t go out and bowl 8 to 9 overs every day. It has been a good challenge and will help in the future if there are any niggles or injuries going forward,” he said.

Like India’s Umran Malik, who is yet to get a game in the series, Nortje built his reputation by bowling in excess of 150kmph regularly. He also held the fastest delivery record in the IPL for a while but this season Lockie Ferguson raised the bar with a 157.3 kmph scorcher. When asked about the ‘pace’ war, Nortje said he is not in the race with Malik or any other fast bowler.

“Malik is a good bowler and a very fast bowler. He has shown that on the field. If he goes faster, good for him, if I go, faster good for me. It is not about bowling fast, it is about winning games,” said Nortje. Will Quinton de Kock be back?Star opener Quinton de Kock has not played since the series opener in Delhi due to a wrist injury and South Africa rely heavily on him. He was present at the nets on Thursday, raising hopes of his return but Nortje did not reveal much.

“I am not sure but he is practising. Good to see he is practising. Probably we will find out tonight or tomorrow morning,” Nortje added. He is also relieved that international teams are finally doing away with bio-bubbles after two years. “It is a relief to be honest not that we have gone out of the hotel much. It doesn’t feel that we are in grade one where we are told every single minute of the day,” he said. South Africa lost the third game after two big wins. Nortje said his team will be treating the fourth T20I as a ‘final’.