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Don't believe Nortje is very far away (from his best): Rob Walter

Last updated on 29 May 2024 | 04:28 AM
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Don't believe Nortje is very far away (from his best): Rob Walter

In his last 11 T20s, the paceman has picked up only nine wickets at an average of 50 and an economy rate of 11.3

Anrich Nortje has struggled to get going since returning from his injury. The tearaway quick from South Africa was out of action for six months due to a stress fracture. Since his comeback, the 30-year-old has played 11 T20s and picked up only nine wickets at an average of 50 and an economy rate of 11.3.

Playing for Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League 2024, Nortje leaked runs at an economy of 13.4. Meanwhile, in the recently-concluded T20I series against the West Indies, the right-armer failed to pick up a single wicket in the two games he played and went at 12.2 runs per over. 

South Africa's white-ball coach Rob Walter, however, isn’t too worried about Nortje’s form going into the T20 World Cup in the USA and the West Indies. "They've been tough conditions for a fast bowler and (Nortje was) coming up against a side who were pretty brutal if you were off the mark,” said Walter in a press conference.

“He probably experienced the exact same thing having come off a break into his first four games at the IPL. So he probably landed himself in a perfect storm, which in many ways can harden you and get you even more ready. I still don't believe he's very far away. A world-class performer finds a way and I don't doubt that he will as well."

The paceman has been picked ahead of Lungi Ngidi, whose slower ones and cutters could have come in handy in the West Indies conditions. "The ideal is to use every person's x-factor to the best of our ability. His x-factor is his pace so we are definitely always looking to use that 150-plus speed that he has,” said Walter.

"He is more than that (pace), really, and he has developed a good set of skills from a slower ball point of view. So I do believe he can bowl on different surfaces and in different positions of the game. But his main job is to strike, really, and break the game open, and then finish it, and then close it up."  

The Proteas have Ottneil Baartman in their set-up who can bowl those change-up deliveries. The right-arm seamer, who finished as the second-highest wicket-taker in this year’s SA20, made his T20I debut against West Indies and picked up 3/26 in his four overs. He missed the last two T20Is because of a lower-limb injury but has returned back to training.

"Ottneil bowled yesterday. He performed excellently well and continues to perform excellently well, so I'm very excited by what Ottneil has brought to the side. He is a very simple and highly talented and skilled individual who sort of slides under the radar in terms of the job that he's doing. He bowls in the toughest parts of the game and finds a way to get it done well."

South Africa’s official warm-up match, scheduled for May 29 (Wednesday) in Florida, has been canceled for logistical reasons. "With the IPL unfolding the way it was, as well as this tour in the West Indies, it would have meant that we played the 24th, 25th, 26th, traveled on the 27th, and then played on the 29th, being unsure as to who was going to arrive when from the IPL. 

“So it just wasn't tenable for us to play a game. We would have loved to have had one warm-up game; it's not like we've been short of playing."

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