Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
21 Jan 2017
10:37 am

Impressive Lungi Ngidi shows there’s brains with the brawn

Heinz Schenk

The 20-year-old Proteas debutant makes a massive impression in the first T20 against Sri Lanka, suggesting a real aptitude.

Lungi Ngidi wants to make a further impression after a good start to international cricket. Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images.

Earlier this week, Lungi Ngidi made no secret of the fact that he like being thrown in at the deep end.

And in Friday night’s first T20 between the Proteas and Sri Lanka in Centurion, he duly proved it.

Also read: Rookie Proteas comfortably dispose of lacklustre Sri Lanka

The 20-year-old quick made an immediate impact as he was named Man-of-the-Match in a game reduced to 10 overs per side.

The real triumph of Ngidi’s performance was that this wasn’t simple beginner’s luck.

In fact, in a helter-skelter match on a pitch tailor-made for batting, you don’t take 2/12 without adapting well.

“I’ve played in a couple of finals in domestic cricket before, so I had been under pressure quite a few times,” said Ngidi.

“I thought it was an advantage and that’s why didn’t feel overawed by opening the bowling. I focused on my method and stayed in the moment. There’s nothing else you can really do.”

That, however, is being a bit modest.

Ngidi really looks a special talent, especially because, at 20, he’s already a keen thinker of the game.

When the heat is on a bowling attack, many observers implore the bowlers to keep it simple.

But that’s also the reason why South African cricket tends to be tactically inflexible.

Ngidi has already established himself as a bit of a maverick – in a good sense.

On a night where the go-to tactic would’ve been keeping it full, the youngster chose to make conditions work for him.

“In the first over, I just wanted to get my line and length right,” he said.

“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be. My head was actually pretty clear. When I came back in the 8th over, Sri Lanka had given us a sniff and I wanted to make it count.”

That’s where the fun started.

“I realised there was some bounce and that the ball was skidding through. So I tried to beat the batter for pace,” said Ngidi.

“I decided to keep it back of a length. I was actually aiming for the caught behind and found the edge. It was a great moment.”

By the end of it all, Ngidi had struck twice in the over as the Centurion crowd erupted in applause.

“I’ve never heard people scream my name like that. I’ve worked hard to get where I am and for the crowd to acknowledge me was quite emotional. I had to take a moment for myself,” he said.

It was well deserved.

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