July 15, 1977, Germiston, Transvaal
Right hand bat
Right arm fast medium
Andre Nel is a muscular, bludgeoning fast bowler who has belied his conservative Afrikaans upbringing by amassing one of South African cricket's most chequered disciplinary records. Nel was sent home from the South Africa A tour of Australia in 2003 after being stopped by Tasmanian police and found to be driving under the influence of alcohol. It was the latest in a string of misdemeanors, but not enough to preclude his selection in the South African one-day squad for the tour of England in 2003, for which he was forced to take a temporary break from his contract with Northamptonshire. Nel was tipped from an early age as a future international and he first made the headlines in February 2001 when he felled his hero Allan Donald with a fierce bouncer during a domestic first-class match. Although Nel burst into tears when Donald was forced to leave the field, it later emerged that he was following instructions from coach Ray Jennings to target South Africa's premier fast bowler.
Further controversy followed later that year, when Nel was one of five South African players found guilty of smoking marijuana during the tour of the West Indies. However, it was during the home West Indies series in 2003-04, during which he got married, that he established himself as a permanent member of the Test team - and was only in trouble once, for making facial gestures to Chris Gayle. A back injury curtailed his progress, but he returned with wickets and more facial contortions against England in 2004-05. Nel came into his own during South Africa's tour of Australia at the end of 2005, where he was an intimidating presence with 14 wickets and an attacking mindset. Four dismissals on Boxing Day led to a strong showing at Sydney, and his ability to fight against the backdrop of racial taunts from the Australian crowd was tough. Failed to back his words, however, during a return series at home, finishing with only six wickets, and was involved in a heated argument with Adam Gilchrist in the second Test after being slammed for 22 runs. An unsuccessful tour of Sri Lanka in the summer of 2006 followed, but Nel was retained in South Africa's 14-man squad for the Champions Trophy in India.
Chipped in with wickets and more than a mouthful of words and cheeky grins against India at home, but will probably be remembered most from the Test series for being at the receiving end of a big six and a famous impromptu dance from Indian pace bowler Sreesanth. He secured a place in the 2007 World Cup squad but wasn't a certainty on the final team-sheet. However, his spells against England and Bangladesh showed what he brought to the attack and his commitment was never questioned. With South Africa settling on a young pace-bowling attack, led by Dale Steyn, opportunities were increasingly limited and he announced his international retirement in March, 2009. He has enjoyed spells with Essex in 2005 and 2007, and was granted early leave from the club in 2008 to play for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League. On the domestic front, he transferred from the Titans to the Lions before the 2008-09 season.
Cricinfo Staff / Neil Manthorp March 2009
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