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Ngidi is eager to improve

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Proteas paceman knows that he has even more to give the young South African bowling attack

Charl Langeveldt is a straight-shooter. The Proteas bowling coach doesn’t mince his words and everyone around him always knows exactly where they stand.

It may sometimes rub people the wrong way, but this honest approach is seemingly working well with the young crop of fast bowlers the Proteas are currently calling on.

With Vernon Philander joining Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel the Test retirement club after last season’s series against England, the most experienced paceman remaining is 24-year-old Kagiso Rabada. 

Next in line is Lungi Ngidi (24) followed by Anrich Nortjé (26), and Langeveldt has certainly left a lasting impression on Ngidi in particular.

“He (Langeveldt) is really supportive, he encourages the way I think, so as a bowler I feel really comfortable with executing my plans. 

“He understands and he has been there before and I think that helps that he has been in situations where you have the ball and you have to deviate from the game plan,” Ngidi said.

“He’s got a lot of knowledge and he is a very skilful bowler, so it has helped my cricket a lot. I think it has just helped me play my way and take a lot of wickets.”

The bulky Titans speed merchant missed the majority of last season due a hamstring injury sustained in the Mzansi Super League, but returned after spending time at a conditioning camp at Cricket SA’s High Performance Centre to play a prominent role in the 3-0 ODI clean sweep over Australia.

Ngidi claimed nine wickets in the series – despite only playing in two of the three matches. This tally was boosted by a new career-best of 6/58 achieved in the second match in Bloemfontein.

“I’d say the road back to cricket wasn’t as bad as people think,” Ngidi said. “I’m not shy to work hard, so it wasn’t an unfamiliar area for me and to be honest I didn’t feel as though I was down and out.

“Like I’ve always said, every person has a different formula and I was still trying to figure mine out and going to camp helped me do that. I figured out that I’ve probably got to work a lot harder than other people. It doesn’t come as naturally. So it just helped me and put me down the right path.”

Despite his impressive comeback, Ngidi believes that there is still plenty of room for improvement and he wants to make an even bigger impact when international cricket resumes after the Covid-19 hiatus. “I think I’ve always been pretty strong mentally, so I didn’t have any issues there,” he said. 

“People always have opinions and will always speak but that doesn’t mean it’s always right. The only thing I could do is just focus on the work that I had to do and I seem to have reaped the benefits in the last few games that we had played.

“To me, personally, I still wasn’t good enough. There were a few games where I could have gone for a lot less runs. I did pick up a few wickets and that is my job, so I was happy with that. 

“However, it’s not the finished product and I still feel that I can deliver a whole lot more and a whole lot better.”