Former Madibaz cricketer Anrich Nortje will make his debut in the Indian Premier League (IPL) after landing a contract to turn out for the Kolkata Knight Riders this year.
The 25-year-old paceman is suffering from an ankle injury, but said he was used to the rehabilitation required as he had suffered a number of long-term injuries early in his career.
He said patience and hard work saw him through those setbacks and the reward has come with the IPL contract, which will see him play in the annual Twenty20 competition from March 23.
Nortje produced several strong performances with Cape Town Blitz in the inaugural Mzansi Super League late last year, leading to his emergence as a promising fast bowler.
His experience at Nelson Mandela University as a young player prepared him to overcome any 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.
“I learnt to work hard towards certain goals during my time with Madibaz.”
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.
“I put all my focus on my studies and almost tried not to think about the rehab too much. I still did what needed to be done, but it wasn’t my main focus. That helped me get through two long-term injuries.”
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.
“As youngsters, you just want to push on every day and he helped with finding the right balance between the cricket and feet-up time.
“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.
“It was great to have someone who wanted the players to play at senior provincial level and franchise level. It made life easier to have your coach fighting the fight with you!”
After breaking a collarbone playing rugby in Grade 11, Nortje felt it was time to focus on cricket.
“When I started playing provincial cricket at U15 and U18 level I knew it was the sport I had to work hard on. After breaking my collarbone in rugby, all the focus was on cricket.”
He said his recovery from the ankle injury was going well and he hoped to make a comeback at the start of February for the Warriors, when the national one-day competition gets under way.