Anrich Nortje targets ‘sticking to basics’ approach for Proteas’ Boxing Day Test against Australia

Anrich Nortje expects the South African bowling to continue from where they left off in Brisbane and wants them to stay focused on their job as they build up to the Boxing Day Test, starting here on Monday.

South Africa lost the opening game of the three-match series in a two-day affair at The Gabba in Brisbane and are now trailing 1-0. Ahead of the second game in the series, in what is a big game at the iconic MCG, the visitors’ will be hoping to do much better after losing tamely on a bowler-friendly wicket at The Gabba.

But Nortje believes the match was closer than it appears as a contest, saying that things could have easily gone the way of the tourists in a match where only two players hit half-centuries — Kyle Verreynne from South Africa and Travis Head for Australia.

“When we look back at the last game, it was just a matter of probably half a session, not even a session, and the game could have been different and we could have been in a winning position…that’s how quick things were happening,” Nortje told reporters on Saturday.

“So you can’t look at losing by six wickets and say it’s a big margin on that wicket, it might have been a very small margin. So it’s hard to say we’re not really focused on the last game, we’re focused on what’s going to come up now, trying to prepare again.”

Everyone’s in a really good space mentally and physically, so we’re just looking forward to getting on and starting the game now,” he added.

The pitch in Brisbane was under the spotlight for its part in the outcome, and received a below-average from the ICC match referee Richie Richardson, as well as one demerit point. The spotlight is now on Melbourne where a lot of focus is on the surface at the MCG that has been prepared by the groundsman.

“We’ll have to wait and see. You can’t really go into history too much, but it seems like a good wicket in terms of pace and bounce. As a bowling unit I don’t think there are going to be massive demons in the wicket. I’ve never played here, so I can’t speak from experience, but we think it will be a good contest,” replied Nortje when asked about the nature of the pitch at Melbourne.

The Proteas’ last Test at Melbourne was way back in 2008 when Dale Steyn took 10 wickets and they beat the hosts by nine wickets en-route to a famous 2-1 series win.

“I don’t think there will be as much side movement (in Melbourne) as there was in Brisbane so hopefully we’ll just be able to stick to the basics. I know it’s simple to say but that’s what we’ll be hoping to do and use our bouncers as a bowling unit,” concluded Nortje.

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