Fast bowler and nightwatchman Anrich Nortje is determined to lead the Proteas away from trouble during the ongoing third Test against England at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
Publicly nicknamed ‘proper Dutchman’ by Proteas bowling coach Charl Langeveldt earlier this week, Nortje epitomised grit and motivation with three hours at the crease as nightwatchman in this Test.
He performed the role in the series opener the series opener at SuperSport Park in Centurion, too. There, he hit a Test best 40.
His primary responsibility, meanwhile, will increase for next week’s fourth and final Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg in the absence of senior fast bowler Kagiso Rabada.
Rabada has been banned for one Test after an arguably overzealous celebration of England captain Joe Root’s dismissal in Port Elizabeth.
‘It’s a sense of trying to go out there and fight, and come hard and be aggressive, with a lot of heart. I try and make things happen with the ball in hand – not really with the bat but if I get an opportunity, if I have to take a few blows I am willing to do that,’ said Nortje.
‘With the bat, it’s about trying to be there for as long as possible. It’s not really about scoring runs for me, it’s about facing a few balls, as many as possible.
‘There’s a little bit of a bigger battle between them and the bowler rather than me. Even if I get a half-volley sometimes, I still block it. For them, it’s about playing naturally as well in stages. You can’t really compare.’
The four-match series is locked one-all. The Proteas won in Centurion. England triumphed in Cape Town. The rain-affected result in Port Elizabeth remains in the balance, though England are on top.
‘We are positive we can save the game. If we have to fight and we have to do what we have to do then we do that. We are not going to be worried about if there is weather around. We are going to come out here and focus on the next two days, fighting. Whatever we have to do to draw this Test match we are going to be up for that. We believe that,’ concluded Nortje.