Nandre Burger – Fast, furious and irresistible

PC – BCCI. Burger has made an impression in IPL 2024

When the South African national team partook in the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia in 2022, Nandre Burger was plying his trade for Western Province in the CSA T20 Challenge. In one of those games, Burger began the proceedings for his side against Titans’ Dewald Brevis. The first ball was defended, but the next one swung nicely to rattle the timber. On replays, it was quite evident that swing was supplemented by a burst of pace and the left-arm angle. Immediately, three words came to the mind in a flash — fast, furious and irresistible. 

No wonder, roughly around a year later, he made his debut for his national side across formats and bagged seven wickets in his maiden Test at Centurion. In the ongoing IPL, Burger has continued to make inroads with the new ball: Five wickets at an average of 18.2. The fast bowler, who can clock speeds in the range of 152-153kph, has been gifted with a generous portion of athletic traits. The wickets of Mitchell Marsh and Ricky Bhui further capsulise his natural abilities.

Vicent Barnes, who helped in shaping the careers of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Makhaya Ntini, and also witnessed Burger’s progress as the CSA Head of High Performance, has this to say about his ward: “I’m a big fan of Burger. I have liked him from a young age, watched him come through our ranks into our national academy and the provincial side,” he told RevSportz.

“Last year, he bowled consistently well, swung it nicely, and did well around the country. He consistently bowled at 140 kph, effortless. Some guys can bowl quick. But they can’t give you four-five overs burst, they can give you a couple of balls. Here is someone who can bowl at 140-kph-average-speed in a spell. He explodes through the crease. Those are the things that can excite a bowling coach. There are not many fast bowlers in the world who can do that. He definitely has the ability, he is strong, he is fit, very impressive,” he added.

Just a quick glance at Burger’s profile and it is surprising to note that the fast bowler is already 28. Despite being a gifted fast bowler, why did it take more than a few years for his talents to glow brightly at higher levels? One of the factors that hindered his progress was injuries. The major setback came in the form of a stress fracture of the back – L5 Vertebra – during the 2021-22 season.

“I’d say, for a person of my personality, getting an injury which rules me out for the whole season is quite a tough thing. It took me a day or two to realise that I am not going to be playing again for this season or my chance to play any games this season is pretty much nothing,” Burger had said to the Western Province Cricket Association’s official website. 

“It was quite difficult to adapt and adjust from the advice I got from Shane Jabaar (physiotherapist) of not being able to do anything, no exercise, no walking around – I just had to sit on the couch and I’m not allowed to stretch, not even lift 5kg weights, those are things I’m always doing, I love the outdoors, I love going out to the beach for a swim, take those walks, so not being able to do those things was quite difficult for eight weeks,” he had noted.

Burger convalesced from the injury and bounced back strongly. He plucked nine wickets at an average of 22.88 and 17 scalps at just over 20 over two first-class seasons. He also bagged 11 scalps at a creditable average of 25.97 in the 2023-24 SA20. His overall T20 record also makes for an impressive reading. 

“He works hard, he is always driven. Unfortunately, he has suffered a number of injuries, but he is extremely disciplined,” observed Barnes. “Recently, he had a back injury, He has come back from that, he did really well last year in domestic cricket, bowled quickly. The Western Province bowling line-up is a very good one. Fortunately for him, he is bowling among a lot of quality bowlers. So, there isn’t much pressure on him, and that takes away a lot of his bowling loads.”

Burger’s bowling is a lot more than just mundane stats. The fluid and long strides and the way he powers through the crease is a connoisseur’s delight. Although, the batter facing Burger may disagree with it. 


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