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Lungi Ngidi during training in Cape Town. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ASHLEY VLOTMAN
Lungi Ngidi during training in Cape Town. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ASHLEY VLOTMAN

Proteas bowler Lungi Ngidi is excited by the fast-bowling stocks in the senior national team set-up, which he says has increased competition among the players to fierce levels.

Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortjé are front-line fast bowlers but Marco Jansen, Duanne Olivier, Lizaad Williams, Beuran Hendricks, Glenton Stuurman, Lutho Sipamla, Sisanda Magala, Daryn Dupavillon and Junior Dala are waiting in the wings.

All-rounders Wiaan Mulder, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo will be fighting for starting spots in the squad in the forthcoming international season too.

“We are competing and you need to perform pretty much every game too,” said Ngidi, one of the many SA sports stars managed by the Roc Nation Sports International agency owned by US music and entertainment mogul Jay-Z.

“There is a guy waiting at the door and the minute you slip up he is ready to take your spot. We keep on competing and you should see how hectic it gets at training, especially when we know that selection is getting closer and closer.

“All of a sudden you see guys bowling faster and faster and really putting their best forward. It is always great for our cricket to see competition among the guys and it is showing in the results.”

Ngidi credited coach Mark Boucher for giving him a chance in the Test series against India last season after a long time in the wilderness, and he returned with 15 wickets in six innings.

“If I can look back to that first Test match against India, I think coach Mark Boucher showed a lot of confidence in me by playing me with everyone knowing that I hadn’t played cricket in a long time.

“For a coach to have faith in you like that and for me to be able to produce the results is exactly what I needed. If I hadn’t played well in that game, I could easily have been replaced in the next Test.

“It comes to be that cut-throat but the only thing you can ask for is an opportunity and that is what coach Boucher gave me for that Test match.”

Since he made his Test debut against India in 2018 Ngidi has only played 13 matches.

“That all comes down to selection because you don’t pick yourself. The other thing is that when I came in to play there were still Morné Morkel, Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn and for the majority of the first season I didn’t really get games.

“With time moving on, there were a couple of injuries and we also don’t play that many Test matches in a year. This year we are playing about eight and if I get to play all of those matches, I will catch up with almost four years of cricket,” Ngidi said.

“You can miss one series and that is almost half of the season, but if we happen to play more Test cricket I am hoping to increase those numbers. In ODIs, I have played over 30 matches, the numbers are growing and I wouldn’t call myself a junior anymore.

“I have played enough cricket to know what is required of me, even with those 13 Test matches I feel what I have to do now and what is required of me.”


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