Delhi Capitals have named Anrich Nortje, the South African fast bowler, as replacement for England allrounder Chris Woakes for IPL 2020, which starts in the UAE on September 19. While the franchise's media statement on Tuesday didn't specify the reason for Woakes' withdrawal, ESPNcricinfo understands that he pulled out because of health concerns.
Nortje, 26, has played six Tests, seven ODIs and three T20Is for South Africa since debuting in Johannesburg last year. At Capitals, he will be part of a formidable fast-bowling set-up, joining fellow South African Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Keemo Paul and Mohit Sharma, among others.
This will be Nortje's maiden IPL stint, after he missed out in 2019 - for Kolkata Knight Riders, who bought him for his base price of INR 20 lakh ($30,000 approx. at the time) - because of a shoulder injury. The Knight Riders deal came after he impressed then head coach Jacques Kallis during the inaugural Mzansi Super League, South Africa's T20 competition.
"I am excited to join the Delhi Capitals, a team that was the talk of the tournament last season," Nortje said in a statement issued by Capitals. "With its exciting mix of experienced and young players, and a stellar coaching line-up, there is no doubt this is going to be a massive learning experience for me. I am grateful to the Delhi Capitals management for giving me this opportunity."
Nortje joins ten other South Africans in this year's IPL, and though there has been some uncertainty surrounding their participation because the country's borders are still sealed as it grapples with the effects of the pandemic, franchises are making arrangements for the players to be available.
Jake Lush McCrum, COO of Rajasthan Royals, said during a select media interaction on Monday that "flights will be organised for the South African players and support staff to get them to the UAE".
Woakes, who has featured in the home Test series against West Indies first and now Pakistan, was signed on by Capitals for INR 1.5 crore ($205,000 approx. at the time) at the December 2019 auction. He had earlier announced his withdrawal from the season, which was scheduled to begin on March 30, to "prolong my England career".
"I just feel like I'd been on a bit of a treadmill and I needed to get off for a bit of a breather. From a mental point of view it's about recharging those batteries," he had said then. "The IPL is great but I've been there and done it. That's not to say I don't want to do it again but at this moment England is the most important thing to me, as well as spending time at home with the family where I can."