Proteas fast bowler and man of the moment Lungi Ngidi says he is humbled by the huge support he received during his Test debut against India, where he returned magnificent figures of 6/39 in the second innings and 7/90 for the match.
His six second-innings wickets are the seventh best by a South African on debut and the 27th best of all debutants. He follows in the footsteps of Lance Klusener (1996), Kyle Abbott (2013), Alf Hall (1923), Marchant de Lange (2011), William Ashley (1889) and Peter Pollock (1961).
Ngidi helped SA convincingly beat the No1 Test team in the world by 135 runs at SuperSport Park in Centurion, where the Proteas wrapped up the series with a match to spare at the Wanderers in Johannesburg starting next Wednesday.
"To be honest, it is difficult to describe the feeling. It is something that I am not used to, having people cheering in my ear. Every time it hit me, it gave me goosebumps and I was nervous out there in the middle. But it is an honour and privilege to see people appreciate the work that you do out there," he said.
Ngidi also complimented Pierre de Bryun, the man who recruited him from Hilton College in Durban to University of Pretoria five years ago.
Asked to say something to De Bryun — who used all the tricks in the book to get him to further his education and cricket career at Tuks — Ngidi said that he could not thank De Bryun enough for the trouble he took to convince him to relocate.
"I don’t think words will ever be enough to thank him, I would not even know where to start. He moved me from where my cricket had kind of taken a dip and took me to a place where I am now able to flourish as a batsman. Words simply would not be enough to thank him," Ngidi said.
"It took him three years to convince me, he first arrived and I was not hearing it. But he would consistently arrive in Durban asking for me specifically. I wanted to see if he really meant it or not by playing hard to get but eventually in my matric year I decided I wanted to further my studies and he offered me that opportunity and to play cricket at the same time.
"I didn’t know where it was going to go, I started from scratch at Tuks and here I am," he said.
Before the Test, De Bryun said if Ngidi was picked as a replacement for Dale Steyn he would be happier than the Titans player. "If he plays in his first Test match‚ I will definitely be the happiest man inside the stadium and probably a little bit emotional‚" he said last week.
"He has come a long way since he was a little kid. I am abundantly happy for what he has achieved in a short period of time and I believe that he has a lot to offer because he is a special talent and a humble human being," De Bryun said.