Anrich Nortje says he is excited to build on a season of personal highlights that had him headlining the CSA Awards nominations.
The Proteas paceman was named South Africa’s top male cricketer at a virtual ceremony on Monday.
Nortje becomes the 12th player to win the premier men’s award and created his own piece of history by being named International Newcomer of the Year and Men’s Cricketer of the Year in successive years.
Nortje, however, played down his personal achievement and stressed that after a difficult season for the Proteas he was just thankful to be involved at the awards.
‘Getting six nominations, I didn’t think that would happen; it’s been such an up-and-down season I’m just happy to be part of the awards again.
‘I had a decent season on a personal note, but I wasn’t really focused on awards, I was just focussed on going to the next game.’
Success hasn’t always come easily for Nortje, and he admits that there were a few difficult conversations that he needed to have in order to improve himself.
‘Here and there we had a few tough talks about upping a few things and certain situations where I could have been better, but I think all in all it has been a good season.’
Nortje took the opportunity to thank those closest to him for their support, particularly in the trying circumstances brought about by Covid-19.
‘I’d like to thank my parents, my friends, my family, my wife and everyone that’s been supporting me and been there for me.
‘It’s been up and down this season with Covid and not getting a lot of games, so it’s been nice to have everyone around me especially when times are tough.’
Asked what he feels are the personal highlights of his career, Nortje was quick to accentuate his time in the Test side. Even recalling with a smile his role as nightwatchman against England which first endeared him to many Proteas fans.
‘My career’s been short so far but there have been a lot of highlights in the Test matches. Starting against India and then going on to face England there are a number of performances that I personally enjoyed.
‘Having the bat in hand, getting my first five-for and then again getting a five-for against Pakistan in Pakistan was something special for me.’
Looking ahead to the upcoming two-Test series against the West Indies, Nortje did not hide his excitement at getting a chance to go up against some of cricket’s most destructive batsmen.
‘I’m very excited to go to the West Indies, I’ve never been there so I don’t know what to expect but I’m sure it will be good!
‘My observation of the Windies players is that they’re generally quite relaxed and like to express themselves on the field, so that will be a good competition for us, especially when their tails are up.
‘They won’t stand back, they’ll go out and express themselves. So that will be a good challenge for us bowlers.’
Although the West Indies has a reputation for being a fast-bowler’s paradise, the sense is that this series the quicks may struggle. It’s something Nortje is aware of but isn’t overly troubled by.
‘Even though conditions may not favour us as seamers, I still think that we can do a good job if we do our basics right. Just continue to try and hit top of off.’