CAPE TOWN – “It is a bit of a mess to be honest at the moment.”
That was Lungi Ngidi’s frank assessment of the safety measures players have to undertake as cricket takes its first tentative steps to resumption under Covid-19 regulations in South Africa.
A 45-man national squad began training for the first time last week after the national government eased lockdown measures on “non-contact sports” which had been in place since March.
The Proteas fast bowler was by no means undermining the deadly disease’s impact globally and will continue to follow all the safety procedures, but admits it will take some adjustment.
“It is a bit difficult and different. We basically have to book sessions now. We will be done and then another group comes in,” the SA ODI and T20I Cricketer of the Year said.
“I don’t think we’re exceeding numbers from about five at the moment.
“As the bowlers, we each have our own net, our own balls, there is pretty much no touching, hardly any communication as well.
“Before we go to the gym, we need to let them know as they need to sanitise the area before we come in.
“There are a whole lot of things that you need to remember as well. We have to test regularly now if we’re coming in for training. There are temperature checkers and hand sanitisers at the gate. We have to fill out forms. It’s a whole process before you can actually bowl a cricket ball.
“It is very frustrating but also very necessary at this point, especially with the 3TC game coming up next week.”
Ngidi believes the biggest challenge at the moment is training in virtual isolation with the players having minimal contact with each other.
“It feels like some bio-hazard event has happened. There is no touching and you barely take your mask off unless you are a certain distance from people. The filling out of forms, bookings … it’s a mess to be honest with you. But it is very necessary because of the epidemic. I don’t believe Covid-19 is something that you should take very lightly,” he said.
“It does feel like something out of a movie because the safety precautions that are being taken is something you have never experienced before as a player. Usually you just rock up.
“Even the change rooms we don’t go inside anymore. We change in the car and go straight to the field or the indoor nets. We don’t gather in groups anymore.
“It feels weird because it’s a team sport. It’s like you’re playing by yourself, despite everyone being there.”
Ngidi’s training at the moment is geared towards being ready for the unique 3TC exhibition event scheduled for Mandela Day at SuperSport Park in Centurion on July 18.
He is part of AB de Villiers’ eight-man Eagles team that includes fellow Proteas Aiden Markram, Andile Phehlukwayo, Rassie van der Dussen, Junior Dala and Kyle Verreynne. New Highveld Lions fast bowler Sisanda Magala completes the roster.