Nortje a Conspicuously Absent from CSA Contract List


Anrich Nortje, also an all-format performer, appeared in only nine of 37 international games South Africa played last year.

Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Sisanda Magala, Wayne Parnell and Keegan Petersen were not on the list of contracted men's players CSA announced on Tuesday. Fair enough, in every instance. But the case of Anrich Nortje, who also wasn't named, raises questions.

De Kock, an all-format star until December 2021, now plays only T20Is. Test specialist Elgar has retired. Magala and Parnell each featured in only seven of South Africa's 33 white-ball matches last year, and Petersen in just two of their four Tests.

Nortje, also an all-format performer, appeared in only nine of those 37 games. But that was due to a lumbar stress fracture that kept him out of action from September 10 last year to March 7 this year.

At 30, he is in the prime of his career and among the fastest and most effective bowlers in the game. From his Test and ODI debuts in October and March 2019 only Kagiso Rabada has taken more wickets for South Africa in those formats, and none of Nortje's current teammates have a better T20I economy rate.

Nortje returned to action in three matches for Eastern Province in the ongoing CSA T20 Challenge, the last two of them five days apart. He bowled all four of his overs in each game and kept a tidy enough economy rate of 6.83, and joined Delhi Capitals following the birth of his and his wife Micaela Nortje's first child last Tuesday.

If Nortje is fit enough for most of what will be a gruelling IPL campaign - he missed Delhi's first match on Saturday to be with his newly enlarged family - why isn't he fit enough to be recontracted by CSA? Because, it seems, he wants to carefully manage the rest of his career.

Cricbuzz understands Nortje has told CSA he wants to concentrate on T20 cricket - franchise and international - for most of this year before extending himself to ODIs by the end of 2024. That's understandable for someone who missed the 2019 IPL and has been ruled out of the last two World Cups by injuries. Test cricket? We may have seen the last of Nortje in whites. But, importantly, he has not retired from the international arena.

So the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and the United States in June remains on his radar. The tournament is likely to be De Kock's swansong in a South Africa shirt. That's if he cracks the selectorial nod. De Kock scored a 44-ball 100 in a T20I against West Indies in Centurion in March last year, but in 24 subsequent innings in the format - for South Africa, Lucknow Super Giants, Melbourne Renegades and Durban's Super Giants - he has passed 50 only twice, and been dismissed for three ducks and six other single-figure scores. He knows he has work to do to make the T20 World Cup squad.

Kyle Verreynne and David Bedingham could consider themselves unlucky not to be contracted. Verreynne scored consistently in the SA20 and the domestic first-class competition, and Bedingham's 110 in Hamilton was among the few positives of South Africa's Test series in New Zealand in February. Nandre Burger and Tony de Zorzi are the new faces among the 18 - down from last year's 20 - who have landed contracts. There was good news for Andile Phehlukwayo, who is back in the centrally paid ranks despite playing for South Africa only six times in 2023.

There wasn't as much to report from the women's list, which increased by one to 16 players. Ayanda Hlubi and Eliz-Mari Marx have signed up and the only notable absence is that of Shabnim Ismail, who has retired.

CSA contracted players for 2024/25:

Men: Temba Bavuma, Nandre Burger, Gerald Coetzee, Tony de Zorzi, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs, Rassie van der Dussen.

The women's contracted squad increased from 15 to 16 with Dolphins fast bowler Ayanda Hlubi and Titans all-rounder Eliz-Mari Marx earning their maiden contracts.