Nel revels in alter ego
England to play 12 men at Edgbaston?
Last Updated: 29/07/08 2:26pm
Nel AKA 'Gunther'
Having gone one match down with two to play, England will have to produce something special if they are going to turn the tables on South Africa and clinch the current npower Test series.
Michael Vaughan's side might have been forgiven for thinking they had received a lucky break when strike bowler - and scourge of the skipper - Dale Steyn suffered a broken thumb last week.
However, in the shape of replacement Andre Nel, the Proteas could well be bringing more to this week's third Test at Edgbaston than England might otherwise have bargained for.
According to The Times, the 31-year-old possesses an on-pitch alter ego called 'Gunther', a character Nel uses in an attempt to explain his own 'white-line fever'.
The latter term was coined by former South African paceman Allan Donald in an attempt to explain the aggression some pace bowlers summon when they cross the boundary rope.
Nel says the name stems from an article he read a few years ago about a community of people living high in the German Alps.
"I recognised myself," he told the paper. "Sometimes I seem to have that lack of oxygen getting to my brain and it seemed a way of explaining myself on the field. I named him Gunther.
"When I walk on the cricket field I get all worked up and quite aggressive," he added. "I will be pumped up, but smart pumped up. I do not go overboard any more.
"But Gunther will come out, no doubt, at some time."
Glossing over past indiscretions with both alcohol and marijuana, Nel's easy-going off-field persona appears in marked contrast to the aggression he, or rather 'Gunther', displays on it.
Obscene gestures have been made in the past and Nel also became involved in an altercation with former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist two years ago.
However, England have experience of dealing with the threat 'Gunther' might pose, with opener Alastair Cook having had first-hand experience when Nel played for Essex.
"He was Gunther with us as well - he can get away with it even more in county cricket," Cook said. "He is a friendly giant off the pitch, but he seems to need Gunther on it.
"It is slightly strange. I don't want to get out to him."