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Anrich Nortje embraces ‘proper Dutchman’ nickname after showing rearguard grit

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What are the characteristics of a “proper Dutchman”, the term of endearment South Africa’s bowling coach Charl Langevedlt used to describe Anrich Nortje?

“It’s a sense of trying to go out there and fight, and come hard and be aggressive, with a lot of heart,” Nortje explained, happy to hear that the nickname that has been attached to him for a “quite a long time” was on air for the first time on day one.

Langeveldt was describing Nortje’s back-bending efforts in the field but the man himself would like to apply the terms to all aspects of his game. “It’s something I try and pride myself on. When conditions get tough, when it’s 40 degrees, I try and be the guy to run and come hard,” Nortje said. “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.”

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For the second time in the series, Nortje’s rearguard as nightwatchman has put South Africa’s top-order to shame. At SuperSport Park, he spent two hours and seven minutes in the middle and faced 89 balls for an accomplished 40, which included a match-winning partnership of 91 with Rassie van der Dussen. At St George’s, Nortje batted for three hours and 11 minutes and faced 136 balls, more than South Africa’s top three combined, to score only 18 runs. When he was dismissed, he sunk to his haunches in disappointment, knowing how close he was to putting in a double shift on overnight watch.

“It’s trying to stay 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,” Nortje said.

Nortje faced more balls from Dom Bess than any other South African batsmen in this innings so far – 59 – and four fewer than Dean Elgar did against Mark Wood – 19. He saw Bess outfoxing the top five as they looked to take the English spinner on more than they did at Newlands. Nortje was not privy to the strategy but saw South Africa’s eagerness backfire on them.

“I’m not too sure how they (the top order) want to play it. I am not in the batting meeting, I can tell you that,” he said. “So I’m not too sure what they want to do but maybe one or two things could have gone differently, whether it’s taking him out the attack or just playing him positively and better, I don’t know.”

What Nortje does know is that it’s not helpful to weigh his efforts up against the specialists’ because their job descriptions are so different. “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,” Nortje said. ” For them, it’s about playing naturally as well in stages. You can’t really compare.”

Instead, what Nortje is interested in is measuring is his performance against Wood’s, the fastest bowler in the opposite camp. “I saw they had a comparison on the big screen and I was more interested in that when I was batting than anything else,” he said, although evasive action was also on his mind. Wood targeted Nortje’s rib-cage and later, his head, giving Nortje first-hand experience of what it must be like facing himself. “I haven’t really had to deal with that before in my career. It gives me a bit of confidence that I can do it. But it’s not the nicest thing, I am not going to lie,” he said.

Asked if the experience of facing Wood has made Nortje more sympathetic to batsmen who have to front up to him, he had a one-word answer: “No.”

That’s the answer a “proper Dutchman,” would give, that embodies the attitude South Africa have to adopt if they are to give themselves a chance of going to the Wanderers all-square. They are 92-runs away from avoiding the following-on and even if they get there, there are still two days left, some of which could be lost to rain. South Africa will be under the pump for most of that time but Nortje is up for it.

“We are positive we can save the game,” he said. “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.”



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Fantasy Picks: Pack your team with West Indians

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February 22: T20 World Cup – Thailand v West Indies, Perth

Our XI: Shemaine Campbelle, Stafanie Taylor, Hayley Mathews, Deandra Dottin, Naruemol Chaiwai, Nattakan Chantam, Anisa Mohammed, Suleeporn Laomi, Shakera Selman, Shamilia Connell, Chanida Sutthiruang

Captain: Deandra Dottin

West Indies’ most important player, Dottin had a wonderful T20 World Cup the last time and there is no reason why she wouldn’t sizzle again, even though she’s returning after a year out of action. Dottin has a batting strike rate of 125-plus and a couple of centuries in the format. With ball in hand, she has picked up 14 wickets in her last ten games.

Vice-captain: Stafanie Taylor

Captain Taylor is someone you can always bank on. A wily customer with the ball in hand and a hard-hitter who bats at No. 3, if she fails with the bat, she will fire with the ball more often than not. Her experience at the WBBL will come in handy as well.

Hot Picks

Hayley Mathews: A hard-hitting batter up the order, Matthews can demolish attacks on her day. She is the only player other than Dottin to score a century in the format, and her usefulness with the ball shouldn’t be forgotten either.

Shakera Selman: The leader of the bowling pack for West Indies, Selman is capable of swinging the ball away from the right-handers and into the left-handers, at pace. Her pace, swing and accuracy could prove to be too much to handle for Thailand and that makes her a must-have.

Chanida Sutthiruang: The Thailand new-ball bowler was the highest wicket-taker in the World T20 Qualifiers in Scotland last year, picking up 12 wickets in five games including a four-wicket haul. Sutthiruang’s strike rate of 3.47 in T20s is quite unbelievable – you do not want to leave her out!

Value Picks

Shamilia Connell: Connell is a right-arm seamer who bowls with a lot of steam upfront and she could rattle the inexperienced Thailand top order.

Suleeporn Laomi: Another legspinner who has been successful in T20s, Laomi picked up six wickets in the Qualifiers last year at an economy of 3.16 in 18 overs.

Points to note

In the last five T20s at this venue, the top-three batters have scored nearly 71% of the runs. If the West Indies top three manage to come close to that, they will fetch you a lot of points.



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‘We don’t want to play defensive cricket anymore’ – Sri Lanka’s Mickey Arthur

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On Wednesday, ahead of his first ODI series as Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur spoke about players being handed down well-defined roles within the team. On Friday, on the eve of the first one-dayer against West Indies, he went into a little more detail about what those roles were.

Unsurprisingly, the two wristspinners in the squad – legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga and left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan – will be expected to make breakthroughs through the middle overs. Sri Lanka were one of the few teams without a reliable wristspinner during last year’s ODI World Cup. With a T20 World Cup later this year, the team is looking to fill that void.

“The key to the wristspiners, and to playing both of them together, is genuine wicket-taking options for us through the middle,” Arthur said. “That is the key, and that’s what wins you white-ball cricket games now. We want to play that brand of cricket. We are looking to attack and looking to take wickets. I think that’s the future for this team. I think in terms of our preparation, that’s been the message. The message has been around attacking. We don’t want to play defensive cricket anymore. That will be reflected in our selection. If the two wristspinners can do the job for us tomorrow, that will be fantastic, because they will take wickets.

“Wanindu is a fantastic cricketer. The way he bowls – the control of his length has been amazing. I’ve really marveled at watching him go about his business. That, coupled with his batting ability, and his fielding, he’s making a real name for himself. Sandakan, obviously, has been around the system a lot longer.”

On the batting front, Sri Lanka have a clear idea who their top six is. Each of those players has a specific job.

“The thing about our batting is that there is a license at the top of the order,” Arthur said. “You’ve got Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando at the top of the order – dynamic. Kusal Perera will bat three. Avishka will open with Dimuth Karunaratne. They will have a licence to get us away in that Powerplay period. And 4, 5, 6 is Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva. Those are the guys who we want to control those overs 11-40. And then hopefully, we’ll have the likes of one of them, a Thisara Perera and a Wanindu, to finish it. If we script the perfect game, that’s how it would work out. We know it doesn’t always happen.”

Where fitness and fielding have been major areas of concern for Sri Lanka over the past two years, Arthur also suggested there has been substantial improvement on both fronts.

“I was watching us go through our fielding yesterday. Our fielding has improved massively. That’s testimony to the players and their attitudes. They’ve bought into where we want to go. And the coaching from Shane McDermott around that has been fantastic. We’ve been big on the split step. We’ve been big on trigger movements on the field, just to trigger the guys into action. To see the whole field moving is a massive improvement on where we were when we went to India with that T20 side [in January].

“If you are fitter you can field better and move better. Your ability and speed to get to the ball is much better.”



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How Poonam Yadav bamboozled Australia

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Australia were cruising at 2 for 67 chasing 133 with Alyssa Healy rolling on 51 from just 34 balls. Poonam Yadav didn’t bowl in the first nine overs and Healy hit her fourth ball for six over long-on. But the legspinner changed the game with a dazzling spell. She bamboozled Australia’s much-vaunted middle order to take 4 for 19 and guide India to victory. She nearly took a hat-trick with Taniya Bhatia dropping a tough caught-behind chance from Jess Jonassen. Here’s how Alex Malcolm and Deivarayan Muthu described the action on ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball commentary.

9.5 Poonam Yadav to Healy, OUT, caught and bowled! Just a 63kph leg break does the trick. This was a better length, Healy came down to it but wasn’t to the pitch, tried to work to long-on, closed the face, got a leading edge and it floated back to Yadav!
AJ Healy c & b Poonam Yadav 51 (35b 6×4 1×6) SR: 145.71

11.3 Poonam Yadav to Haynes, OUT, Poonam strikes another blow! Lobs up a wrong’un, it lures the batter out and goes past the outside edge. Delightful flight and India are back in this. Bhatia continues her fine shift behind the stumps
RL Haynes st †Bhatia b Poonam Yadav 6 (8b 0x4 0x6) SR: 75.00

11.4 Poonam Yadav to Perry, OUT, Poonam is on a roll, she sends back Perry for a golden duck. She lobs up another wrong’un, Perry dares to step out. She is done in by the variation. Poonam sneaks through the gate and hits leg stump. What a double-strike from Poonam
EA Perry b Poonam Yadav 0 (1b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00

11.5 Poonam Yadav to Jonassen, no run, Nearly a hat-trick for Poonam. Bhatia, the keeper, drops it in the end. Fairly difficult chance for the keeper. Poonam lobs up another googly, draws an outside edge as the batter pushes away from the body, the keeper follows the ball, but it pops out of the gloves

13.5 Poonam Yadav to Jonassen, OUT, 58kph, tossed up on middle and breaks away sharply, yet another wrong’un. She finds the edge again. Top work from Bhatia this time, after denying Poonam the hat-trick in her previous over. She snaffles it and sends Jonassen back. She dared to sweep against the break and paid the price
JL Jonassen c †Bhatia b Poonam Yadav 2 (6b 0x4 0x6) SR: 33.33



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