Former Madibaz cricketer Anrich Nortje has taken a further step forward in his career by securing a contract for the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year.
The 25-year-old paceman was rewarded for some hard work after a number of injuries when IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders snapped him up in December for the tournament starting on March 23.
Nortje, who attended Brandwag in Uitenhage, caught the eye with a number of influential performances for Cape Town Blitz in the inaugural Mzansi Super League late last year.
An ankle injury ended his participation in the Twenty20 competition, but his experiences at Nelson Mandela University, where he had some injury problems, have toughened him mentally for these sorts of challenges.
“I learnt quite a bit from my varsity days,” said Nortje. “Among them was being patient while playing and also being patient when injured.
He said gaining a degree – he has a B.Comm in financial planning and a postgraduate diploma – was essential to his long-term development as a cricketer.
“When I first went to varsity I just wanted to play cricket,” said Nortje. “But after the first injury I started shifting my mindset to focus on my studies.
“You can’t focus only on sport and hope it works out. Even if you have a decent career there is still an after-sport career that you’ll need to pursue and to have something to fall back on is very important.”
He recalled his playing days at Madibaz with fondness.
“Our main focus was to improve and to try certain things in a game that we had been practising. Especially when we were on top of another team we tried to execute some of our skills as bowlers even if it wasn’t necessary, just to see where you were.”
Nortje, who lives in Humewood in Port Elizabeth, said he had always worked on his fitness, even at a school level, where he was guided by biokineticist Runeshan Moodley, who was then at Muir College and later worked at Madibaz Sport.
“When I got to varsity Francois Holder was the trainer who really pushed us and it was something all of us needed.
“He was very understanding as well and knew how to handle us – when we had to take breaks and when we had to push on.
“Baakier Abrahams was our coach at the time and he also played a big role in pushing all of the players to go to the next level.”
About to embark on his latest adventure, Nortje is champing at the bit for the league which starts at the end of March.
“IPL is definitely one of my dreams come true,” he said. “I really can’t wait to get out onto the field to represent the Kolkata Knight Riders.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase your skills and to show the world what you can do.”