Anrich Nortje admits he may get his own back with short balls at Old Trafford
Anrich Nortje has promised England more chin music in the second Test but insists South Africa did not change their approach to try and combat the hosts’ aggressive style of cricket at Lord’s.
The Proteas moved 1-0 up in the series after England were bowled out for 165 and 149 to lose by an innings and 12 runs inside three days, which has abruptly halted the four-match winning start made by the new red-ball regime of Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes.
Nortje produced a fiery spell in the afternoon session which accounted for Jonny Bairstow, Alex Lees and Ben Foakes in the space of 10 deliveries with his speed at one point hitting 95mph, but each of his scalps occurred after the ball had been pitched up.
It was in stark contrast to England’s tactics against Nortje, who scored an important 28 not out at the start of day three after he withstood a barrage of anticipated short-pitched bowling from the hosts.
While the fast bowler claimed his wickets with a good line and length, he has warned that payback could be in store during next week’s second Test at Emirates Old Trafford.
“I probably didn’t think they would stick to it for such a long period with different bowlers but I always know I am going to get it,” Nortje said.
“A different wicket and it might be different again. I will not really read too much into it and either way I am going to get it again, so I might as well try to dish out a few as well!
“You would have to ask them what their plans are with regards to the bouncers to me. Nose and toes is what they mostly say to the tail-ender and try take the feet away. Most of the time it works so I don’t really have answers.
“I just focused on what my strengths are and take it from there. If there is one or two bouncers that I do bowl, that’s fine but I try to focus on hitting length most of the time.”
Nortje had appeared one of several in the South Africa camp who had taken a dislike to England’s so-called ‘Bazball’ approach, which produced four thrilling chases earlier in the summer to beat New Zealand 3-0 and stun India when they reeled in a target of 378 at Edgbaston.
Proteas captain Dean Elgar insisted before the opener at Lord’s that his side would stick to their own plans in the face of such an attacking philosophy and, despite the hosts being put in to bat for the first time this summer, Nortje was adamant South Africa followed the methods that have taken them to the top of the Test World Championship table during the past 12 months.
He added: “We are quite focused on our game and the way we want to play Test cricket. We haven’t really paid too much attention as to what they want to do and how they want to go about things.
“The next game it might go their way again so you have to start from scratch, focus on what we did well in this game and find the areas where we can still improve.”
South Africa have won eight of their last 10 Tests with Nortje’s contributions key but he is just one member of an excellent four-seam attack that looks amongst the best in the world.
Kagiso Rabada’s variation proved too good for England and the 6ft 9in Marco Jansen should only get better as the series unfolds while Lungi Ngidi claimed the prize wicket of Joe Root during a fine opening spell on day three. It leaves England with much to ponder.
“It is an unbelievable attack and guys have shown what they can do,” Nortje said.
“Everyone covers a different aspect in their own department and it is just really nice to be joining up and playing red-ball cricket with the team again.”
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