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Ngidi is ready to step up and lead Proteas attack

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“It has been a while since I played a cricket game. It was nervous experience, but I am glad I got back into the swing of things with a couple of wickets”

LUNGI Ngidi is looking forward to leading the Proteas attack during the upcoming ODI series against England in the absence of his “partner in cricket” Kagiso Rabada.

Ngidi and Rabada normally share the new white ball for the Proteas in limited-overs cricket, but the latter has been given some time off after the Test series to recharge his batteries.

The three-match series is a big one for Ngidi, though, as the burly fast bowler makes his way back into international cricket after injury ruled him out of the Test matches. The 23-year-old will also hope to prove that the time spent at a recent Cricket SA conditioning camp has helped him improve his overall fitness after struggling at last year’s World Cup too.

“I am feeling very good. I’ve been working at the High Performance Centre with Adrian le Roux. We worked on my conditioning. It helped me a lot, in terms of what I wanted to do. Running, bowling, gyming,” Ngidi said.

“I love the responsibility. There is lots of pressure in international cricket. You find how good you really are. My partner in cricket gets to take a bit of a rest, so I get to take the reins this series and hopefully I can get come out on the right side.”

Ngidi had not played any cricket since being ruled out of the Mzansi Super League final with a hamstring injury in December. Then in Friday evening’s Momentum One-Day Cup opener against the Highveld Lions at SuperSport Park, it would have been understandable if the youngster eased his way back into competitive action, but Ngidi went full throttle at his Gauteng neighbours and finished with the impressive figures of 3/40 in a Lions’ total of 309 all out.

“It has been a while since I played a cricket game. It was nervous experience, but I am glad I got back into the swing of things with a couple of wickets,” Ngidi said.

“It shows where you have left off. To come in and take three wickets after six weeks it is a step in the right direction. You need confidence when you face the world champions.”

The transition back into international cricket will be made easier for Ngidi with a familiar face welcoming him to the change room. New Proteas coach Mark Boucher was Ngidi’s coach at the Titans and Tshwane Spartans and played a massive role in helping the former Hilton College graduate through the ranks to international cricket.

“I enjoy working with him (Boucher). He is a very straightforward man. It’s either black or white. We have a really good relationship,” Ngidi said. “Having new coaches, you want to impress them. They understand you a lot better as a player. The guys feed off their energies.”