Home News Andre Nel: Former fiery fast bowler returns to action in Essex League

Andre Nel: Former fiery fast bowler returns to action in Essex League

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Andre Nel Returns to Cricket

Andre Nel, the fiery former fast bowler who last played first-class cricket for Surrey in July 2010, has now returned to the cricket pitch. Once known as one of the most feared and unpredictable fast bowlers globally, the South African attributed his aggressive on-field conduct to an alter ego he named Gunther.

Speaking with the BBC, Nel explained that Gunther was an imaginary character from the mountains of Germany whose oxygen-deprived childhood resulted in a slightly askew mentality.

At 45, Nel has returned to cricket, making his debut for Chelmsford Cricket Club in a second XI game against Upminster. Despite holding 446 first-class wickets, with 123 in Test matches, his debut game figures of 0-22 from seven overs suggested a mellowing of the infamous Gunther persona.

In a conversation with BBC Essex, Nel acknowledged that he no longer gets as angry as he used to, stating, “My mind wants to get angry but my body can’t back it up and it’s pointless now.” He is more focused now on the joy of the game and helping the younger generation improve their skills.

Nel started his Test career against Zimbabwe in 2001 and famously showed a more vulnerable side when he wept after accidentally injuring Allan Donald with a bouncer during a provincial game. He later made a significant impact on England with first-innings figures of 6-81 in a drawn match at Centurion in 2005.

Nel’s Test career concluded at The Oval with a disappointing match where he didn’t take a wicket, but England ultimately won by six wickets. In addition to his Test career, Nel took 106 wickets in 70 one-day internationals and appeared in two T20 matches. He also had stints with Northamptonshire, Essex, and Surrey.

Following his playing career, Nel served as assistant head coach for Essex for three years, achieving a County Championship and T20 Blast double in 2019, and lifting the Bob Willis Trophy the next year. He has been coaching at the National Fast Bowling Academy and the England Over-40 team since leaving the club after the 2021 season.

His decision to return to the field was unexpected and partially spurred by his fitness journey preparing for the London Marathon. He was also drawn back when his daughter decided to try cricket and he was recruited as an umpire. In spite of his initial hesitations, Nel now embraces the opportunity to guide and mentor young players.

Though his first game back saw no wickets and resulted in a loss, Nel’s contribution both on the field and as a mentor was significant. His goals remain focused on the development of the younger players and not on his personal performance.

His future aspirations involve potential higher-level coaching opportunities, closely following his former team Essex’s performances, and maybe even showcasing his skills for his daughter who, never having seen him play, currently regards his cricket skills with skepticism.

Andre Nel was interviewed by Victoria Polley from BBC Essex.

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MikeC June 10, 2023 - 3:46 am

Wow, can’t believe Andre Nel is back in the game! Always loved watchin him bowl, fiery fast that guy!

CricketFan101 June 10, 2023 - 3:46 am

That’s so cool, Nel’s return! haha, the Gunther alter ego, still remember those days. Good to see him passin on his knowledge to the next gen.

EssexLoyal June 10, 2023 - 3:46 am

Can’t wait to see Nel in action for Chelmsford! Just hope he can still pull off some of those fast balls.

SA_Patriot June 10, 2023 - 3:46 am

Man, Andre Nel was one of the best for South Africa. Wish he was still in his prime but good to see him back anyway.

SportyG June 10, 2023 - 3:46 am

Its not just about winning, it’s about mentoring the young’uns. Good on ya, Nel!


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