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Enoch Nkwe during. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES
Enoch Nkwe during. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES

Ace fast bowler Anrich Nortjé “opted out of” a national contract with Cricket SA for the next 12 months, saying he wanted to focus on the T20 format for the rest of the year.

Nortjé 30, told Cricket SA director of cricket Enoch Nkwe that he wanted to work on his strength and conditioning after an extended period out of the game after he injured his lower back in September 2023. That injury saw him miss the World Cup and the rest of the home international summer.

He returned to full time play at the start of the month, turning out for his provincial team, the Warriors in three matches in the CSA T20 Challenge. Following the birth last week of his and his wife, Micaela’s first child, Nortjé headed to India to fulfil his IPL obligations with the Delhi Capitals.

“He has not retired from Tests,” Nkwe said of Nortjé. “He opted out of a contract because he wants to manage his body. For now he wants to focus on T20s but we will reassess his position for ODIs and Tests later this year.”

Nortjé has played 19 Tests and taken 70 wickets, and was a member, albeit briefly, of one of the most devastating fast bowling quartets of the modern era with Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen and Lungi Ngidi.

However, injuries and the Proteas limited Test schedule had left him asking questions about his long-term future in the red ball format. “We have to respect the process he is going through,” said Nkwe, who added that CSA would be working with Nortjé on a management programme.

“If everything goes according to plan, then after the [2024/25] season we can look at the way forward. He said he still wants to play Test cricket and we have respected his request. He will still be available for the T20 World Cup.

Nortjé, with Wayne Parnell, Sisanda Magala, Quinton de Kock and Keegan Petersen did not have their national contracts renewed, while Dean Elgar has retired. Cricket SA announced a list of 18 contracted men’s players, down from 20 in 2023.

Nkwe said De Kock’s retirement from Tests and ODIs precluded him from earning a contract. It has been speculated that the T20 World Cup in June will be his swansong in the national jersey, but Nkwe wasn’t ruling out a return. “We will touch base with Quinton after the T20 World Cup,” he said.

Nkwe said David Bedingham, who has made a century and two half-centuries in seven innings since making his debut against India on Boxing Day, was very close to earning a contract. “We have actually had lots of discussions about him. He is very strongly in our plans.”

Nandre Burger, Tony de Zorzi and Gerald Coetzee were the newest recipients of national contracts.

Proteas men’s contract squad 2024/25: 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.

Proteas women’s contract squad 2024/25: Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Lara Goodall, Ayanda Hlubi, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Suné Luus, Eliz-Mari Marx, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukhune, Chloé Tryon, Delmi Tucker, Laura Wolvaardt.

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