Delhi Capitals’ South African quick Anrich Nortje has been cleared of “any serious injury”. Also, the stress fracture that was understood to be the reason for him being sidelined for the last six months, has been ruled out, clearing the way for him to join Capitals at the IPL.
The update has come from CSA chief medical officer Shuaib Manjra, who confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that Nortje would now complete his rehab during the IPL. “We did a range of Tests on Anrich and ruled out any serious injury,” Manjra said on Saturday. “We felt safe enough to have Anrich do his rehab in India and his return to play in India. We have ruled out the stress fracture of the back.”
Nortje, who last played competitively at the T20 World Cup last November, was retained by the Capitals and joined the franchise bubble in Mumbai earlier this week after Capitals physiotherapist Patrick Farhart flew to South Africa to conduct his own assessment. Farhart, an experienced and well-respected physio, is understood to have been confident about Nortje’s recovery and his being able to take part in IPL at some stage. Farhart will determine when that would be, once he has conducted fresh fitness tests on Nortje.
The injury itself has intrigued CSA. Initially, it was identified as a “persistent hip injury”, which ruled him out of the home series against India in December-January. Nortje also did not travel to New Zealand for the two-match Test series and was then ruled out of the ongoing home series against Bangladesh.
On March 8, when the South Africa ODI squad for the Bangladesh series was announced, Victor Mpitsang, CSA’s chief selector, had said that it might be “difficult” for Nortje to take part in the IPL, and there was no “time frame” for his recovery. At the time, Manjra had also noted that it was “frustrating” because Nortje was facing discomfort in his loading and the medical team had “identified three different problems between back and hip and we don’t know which is primary”.
Why then did CSA allow Nortje to travel to IPL when his rehab had not concluded? And what about the risk of the injury recurring considering he has not bowled in competitive cricket for six months?
Manjra allayed the fears. “Before he left SA he was beginning to bowl. We felt comfortable sending him to India,” he said.
Importantly, CSA has the right to recall Nortje if they deem it necessary for his long-term fitness. However, at the moment, they have decided to join hands with Capitals and give Nortje a chance to get back to bowling normally.