After being on a hat trick at one stage, Anrich Nortje could’ve been forgiven if he had thought that this Proteas gig is rather easy.
In just his third ODI, he had taken two wickets in two balls to rock the Sri Lankan innings at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.
The tall 25-year-old claimed 3/19 in a heady six-over spell, and just like that, the rumours of him being a bolter in the World Cup squad appeared to be coming true.
But cricket has never been an easy game, and the sport reminded Nortje of just that later in the innings.
The unheralded Isuru Uhana, batting at No 9, proceeded to club Nortje all over his beloved home ground, and spoil his figures to the extent that 3/19 become 3/57 in just two overs.
It doesn’t mean, though, that Nortje’s World Cup dream is over. Far from it.
“Obviously disappointed at the end – last two overs didn’t go according to plan. But I think it’s a nice learning curve, and I can only take some positives from this, and learn from it,” the Warriors paceman said after the match.
“I spoke to Faf and a few of the guys afterwards, just to get the right plan for next time. I think maybe I might have been a little too straight, and it didn’t work 100 percent.
“I was backing myself most of the time, but it was maybe just the wrong plan at the end.”
With regards to the World Cup squad, he added: “It’s difficult to say. I’m just taking it one game at a time – for me, it was another great opportunity for me to play.
“So, what happens after that, I can’t control anything. For me, it’s just to come out every time and give it my best shot. And then, what the selectors and whoever think of the performance, that’s up to them.
“But for me, it’s about every opportunity, to just try and run in and give some aggression from my side.”
4/5 for the Proteas ?
1 More match remains in the series and the prospect of a series whitewash is still on.
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA)
March 13, 2019
Nortje bowls with genuine pace, and would be a like-for-like replacement should any of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi or Dale Steyn go down during the tournament.
But does he warrant a spot in a 15-man squad? He will have another chance to impress selection convenor Linda Zondi in the final ODI against Sri Lanka at Newlands on Saturday (1pm start).