Having missed out on last year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) due to injury, Proteas paceman Anrich Nortje is relishing the opportunity at this year’s edition of the biggest T20 competition in the world, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
After months of negotiation and seeking alternative executions, the 13th edition of the IPL will get under way on 19 September in the UAE.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic meant organisers had to change the venue of the competition due to the risk of the virus in the usual host country, India.
But, despite the circumstances and the strict protocols that have to be followed, Nortje told SA Cricket magazine that he is looking forward to the opportunity to join up with his new team, the Delhi Capitals, and to continue his good form after a breakthrough season with the Proteas.
‘I am really looking forward to it, especially after I missed last year’s IPL,’ Nortje said after he was ruled out of the Kolkata Knight Riders squad with a shoulder injury in 2019.
‘It is quite a big occasion and a really competitive competition, but I am just really happy at the moment to be a part of the Delhi Capitals.’
Nortje was recruited by the Capitals as a late replacement for Chris Woakes, who decided to withdrew from the IPL due to safety reasons and to continue his focus with the England national team.
A further calming positive for Nortje is that South African teammate Kagiso Rabada is also in the Capitals team and he is used to competing in the sometimes intense environments of the IPL.
Rabada finished with the second-most wickets in the 2019 IPL after picking up 25 scalps in 12 matches at an average of 14.72, while former Proteas spinner Imran Tahir won the purple cap for most wickets in the competition, just edging Rabada with 26 wickets.
More importantly, in the current climate, Nortje believes it will be valuable to have a close teammate and friend in the same set-up.
‘To have someone from South Africa with me in the team I believe will be really helpful. I think it can become quite lonely being away from home for such a long period of time and especially with Covid-19 as well, so to have him [Rabada] in the same team will be a definite bonus,’ he added.
Nortje departed for Dubai along with David Miller this past Saturday, and is in six-day isolation in his hotel room before meeting up with the rest of the Delhi Capitals squad to commence preparations for the competition.
‘We will meet up as a group in a bio-bubble if all the Covid-19 tests we have conducted in these six days return negative.’
Nortje has been trying to stay active despite being confined to the small hotel room and has found ways to exercise. He remains in a good physical condition ahead of what promises to be a hot and humid couple of weeks of cricket.
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South Africans in this year’s IPL: AB De Villiers (RCB), Chris Morris (RCB), Kagiso Rabada (Delhi Capitals), Quinton De Kock (Mumbai Indians), Dale Steyn (RCB), Faf Du Plessis (Chennai Super Kings), Imran Tahir (Chennai Super Kings), Hardus Viljoen (KingsXI Punjab), David Miller (Rajasthan Royals), Lungi Ngidi (Chennai Super Kings)