Lungi Ngidi says he wants to take the new ball for the Proteas.
The 22-year-old had an incredible opening two Test series’ against India and Australia, finishing with nine wickets in two matches, including a BBI of 6-39 on debut at Centurion. He also returned match figures of 5-75 in the second Test against Australia after replacing Morne Morkel.
Many believed that he should have played a more prominent role in the bowling attack, but Morkel returned in the next Test at Newlands at the expense of Ngidi. Morkel’s retirement from international cricket after the Australia series should see Ngidi become more prominent in the side though.
‘I want to take the new ball for my country, so I’m trying to perform as best as I can and put myself in the best position to be selected,’ Ngidi told the media on Thursday. ‘It’s a big responsibility but it’s part of the game and is something I’ve always wanted. I’m going to keep working towards that and focus on my own game and contribute towards my country as best as I can.’
Ngidi, however, faces stiff competition if all the Proteas’ bowlers are fit. Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada are all new-ball specialists, but Ngidi admitted that he understands his position in the side.
‘It’s difficult for me only having played a few international games,’ said Ngidi.
‘We still have Dale, Vern and KG who are still frontline bowlers. I’m just trying to add to the pack and strengthen the group. It’s difficult to say where I fit in at the moment, but whenever [I am] called upon there’s a job to do.
‘The Australia series really helped me realize where I fit in the picture, running into guys like that and being able to bowl decently was nice to see.’
Ngidi could get the opportunity to show his new-ball skills in the series against Sri Lanka in July, in sub-continental conditions that he has recently become accustomed to through his experience in the IPL.
He was an integral part of the Chennai Super Kings’ title-winning campaign finishing with 11 wickets in seven matches.
‘The wickets were a lot better than I expected,’ said Ngidi about his IPL experience.
‘That was pleasing. I’m not saying it will be the same in Sri Lanka, but just to be able to play in those conditions, in terms of the heat, humidity has put me in a better position to face Sri Lankan conditions.
‘The line and lengths are crucial there. I just made sure I was attacking that fourth stump, hitting the top of the stumps and making the batsmen play. It’s a cliche we hear but it’s not so easy to execute on the field and keep repeating it. Those are the most important things about bowling in sub-continent conditions.’
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