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Nortje returns in Markram-led South Africa T20 World Cup squad

Ryan Rickelton and Ottniel Baartman have also earned call-ups and are set to earn their first T20I caps

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
30-Apr-2024
Anrich Nortje has been ruled out of South Africa's squad for the ODI World Cup, South Africa vs Australia, 2nd ODI, Bloemfontein, September 9, 2023

Anrich Nortje hasn't played a T20I since March last year  •  Getty Images

Anrich Nortje will make his international comeback after a nine-month absence at the 2024 T20 World Cup. Nortje, who has been in action at IPL 2024, has been named in South Africa's 15-player squad that will be led by Aiden Markram. Opening batter Ryan Rickelton and seamer Ottniel Baartman - both standout performers at this year's SA20 - have also earned call-ups and could earn their first T20I caps.
Rickelton was the leading run-scorer in the SA20 and the second-highest run-scorer at the recent CSA T20 Challenge, and will likely partner Quinton de Kock at the top of the order.
The T20 World Cup could also be de Kock's last international appearance - he retired from ODI cricket last year but was persuaded to stay on in T20Is for this event. De Kock is no longer centrally contracted by CSA as he pursues opportunities in T20 leagues.
White-ball coach Rob Walter confirmed that despite poor form in his last three tournaments, de Kock has been picked on historic performances. "Quinny, we've seen him do it time and time again for us," Walter said. "Reeza [Hendricks] has been a star performer for us in T20 cricket, was a standout in this domestic CSA T20 challenge again, and Ryan Rickelton has had two outstanding competitions really where he's played the brand of cricket that we're looking to play. And then we're going to have Aidan Markram and that'll be the top order. It's mostly a performance-based decision and from Quinton's point of view is just a real knowledge of what he's capable of."
Baartman, the second-highest wicket-taker at the SA20, has been chosen with the death overs in mind. "Over the last couple of years, he's been outstanding. Butin particular in the SA20, he was a cut above the rest. He really showed himself as a quality death bowler," Walter said. "We've seen particularly in the last couple of weeks in IPL being able to manage the death is going to be critical and he is someone who offers that speciality. If you look at the numbers, he's been successful through all the phases of the game. He's worked really hard to get his name into the mix through sheer performance."
The IPL has also given Walter the confidence to pick Nortje, who has taken seven wickets in six matches for Delhi Capitals so far. He has conceded at 13.36 runs an over but has bowled fast. "Anrich has got another month before the World Cup starts so I have no doubt he'll hit his straps," Walter said. "It's good to see that his speed is up. The one thing Anrich has that separates him from others is raw pace. There's not many guys who can bowl 150kph and he can. Pace is an X-factor."
Nortje's speeds helped him be selected ahead of Lungi Ngidi, who missed the IPL with a lower back injury but returned during the CSA T20 Challenge and is one of two traveling reserves. Left-arm seamer Nandre Burger, currently with Rajasthan Royals, is the other. The squad includes four frontline seamers in Nortje, Baartman, Kagiso Rabada and Gerald Coetzee, with Ngidi and Burger as traveling reserves, and three spinners. Left-arm spinners Keshav Maharaj and Bjorn Fortuin are part of the squad, along with wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi. That left room for only one allrounder: Marco Jansen, with Andile Phehlukwayo and Wiaan Mulder missing out.
Their batting will include a strong middle order of Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller and Tristan Stubbs and no batters among the reserves. Faf du Plessis, who was in line for an international comeback, has not been named while Rassie van der Dussen and Matthew Breetzke - the leading run-scorer in the CSA T20 Challenge and third-highest in the SA20 - have both been overlooked.
Van der Dussen and Breetkze will, however, travel with a second-string South Africa side to play West Indies in three T20Is that precede the World Cup, though that squad could change based on player availability from the IPL. That squad includes uncapped legspinner Nqaba Peter, who was the second-highest wicket-taker in the CSA T20 Challenge.
The other absentees from South Africa's last T20 World Cup squad, in 2022, are former captain Temba Bavuma, Rilee Rossouw and Wayne Parnell. Bavuma, Parnell and Ngidi's exclusions, in particular, have created something of a complication for Walter because the squad is short on players of colour. The 15-man traveling group includes only six players of colour and one black African (Rabada), which will leave South Africa short of the targets at the tournament. The current target requires the national team to field an average of six players of colour of which at least two must be black African over the course of a season, so Walter has the opportunity to make that up in other matches but is mindful that he could face criticism over reduced representation.
"My number one imperative is to create a winning team. In order to do that, every time I pick a side, I've got to pick the best team at the time that I think will give us a chance of doing that. That said, the system needs to really up the ante so that in six months, 12 months, or two years' time, and in particular when we reach the 2027 [ODI] World Cup at home, that the demographics and the representation in our team starts to look a bit different.
"Outside of the World Cup, we'll continue to use our bilateral series to grow our base of players, to create international opportunity, to give opportunity for players to put their skills at a higher level and just make sure that we are delivering on a process that's going to change what our team looks like as we move forward."
Asked whether, in the absence of a selection panel, he required special dispensation to fall short of the target, Walter indicated that the squad was chosen in collaboration with Enoch Nkwe, South Africa's director of cricket. "No squad that I pick is picked without discussion with the director of cricket. It's as simple as that."
South Africa begin their T20 World Cup campaign on June 3 against Sri Lanka in New York.

South Africa T20 World Cup squad

Aiden Markram (capt), Ottniel Baartman, Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs.
Travelling reserves: Nandre Burger, Lungi Ngidi

South Africa T20I squad for series against West Indies

Ottniel Baartman, Matthew Breetzke, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Patrick Kruger, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Nqaba Peter, Ryan Rickelton, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent for South Africa and women's cricket