For someone who never dreamt of being a professional cricketer till his university days, Nandre Burger has been living a dream for the last six months. First, Burger made his international debut across all formats in 14 days during India’s tour of South Africa in December 2023.

Then, the left-arm quick was signed by Rajasthan Royals during the Indian Premier League 2024 auction last year.

And funnily enough, he admits, Burger never wanted to be a professional cricketer. Instead, he was into racket sports.

“I used to love tennis and squash, those were my sports growing up,” Burger told the Rajasthan Royals website. “When I went to the university as an 18-year-old, someone told me I could become a professional cricketer if I took it seriously. I laughed it off initially, but then I thought I should give this a try and be the best cricketer I can be.

“A very interesting journey from not wanting to be, to being this cricketer. I have always been a lover of this game and used to wake up at 1 AM to watch Test matches in Australia and that passion burns hard,” Burger said

The 28-year-old Burger, a late bloomer, had a bright start to his international career picking up five wickets from three One-Day Internationals. He was also the second-highest wicket-taker in the two-Test series against India with 11 scalps.

“Everything I learned about cricket was in situations later than most players,” Burger pointed out. “The other guys had played a lot of cricket at school and had a lot more experience. I think that’s what makes me a bit different and adds a bit of rawness to me.”


The Royals call up


The Royals signed Burger at his base price of INR 50 lakhs at the IPL auction in December 2023. Interestingly, Burger was representing South Africa in their second ODI against India and picked up three wickets, as the Royals availed his services.

“We were actually playing an ODI in Port Elizabeth against India so I had no idea. I came off the field and everyone congratulated me. I said thanks and I thought I bowled really well.

“Then they clarified that I was picked up by the Royals in the auction. It was a cool moment like not really knowing what they were talking about and caught me by surprise.

“The whole month was very overwhelming for me and I am really excited for the journey and grateful for the opportunity. The Royals have a good history in the IPL, being a good and consistent team. Everyone is here to try and lift the trophy and try and keep that history going,” the South African said.


Steyn, speed and style


Burger has been cranking up the pace this IPL, bowling in the high-140s consistently making batters uncomfortable. He clocked 153 kmph, his fastest delivery this IPL against the Delhi Capital in the Royals’ second game this season.

“I just love bowling, and growing up, I watched Dale Steyn and just the passion he had, the enjoyment he had bowling, that’s the reason I tried to be a fast bowler,” explained Burger.

Burger has made an instant impact in his debut season in the IPL picking up six wickets from his first four matches for the Royals. He has formed a potent new-ball combination with Trent Boult, another left-arm quick in the side, to help the Royals to good starts with the ball.

“I am really excited to work with Bondi (Shane Bond), the fast-bowling coach of the Royals, a great fast bowler in his time, so excited to learn from his experiences. Boult is a great bowler in the powerplay as well as in the death overs, so I will try and pick his brain to learn from things he does,” said Burger

Burger is a ferocious competitor on the field, but quite easy-going and calm off it, and likes to enjoy time in his room. He had a run-in with Virat Kohli during the second Test against India as the Proteas were trying to seize the advantage back from the visitors after being bowled out for 55 in their first innings.

“I am smiling off the field and always happy. On the field, I am a little different, obviously happy and enjoying it, but I think I am a very competitive person and that is probably why sometimes some fiery moments come out of me.

”But it was good to show some fight and stand up for my country. We walked off together at tea time and gave each other a fist bump. You always want to bowl to the best and challenge yourself against the best and I think I will never back down,” Burger summed up.

Apart from cricket, Nandre Burger is a coffee freak who loves to spend his free time with the PlayStation or watching YouTube. Burger is also an avid follower of football and supports Real Madrid and Manchester United.