Lungi Ngidi says he admires Kagiso Rabada but wants to follow his own path to success.
The 21-year-old had a steady start to his international career, from taking a maiden five-wicket haul against India on his debut at Centurion to replacing Morne Morkel in the starting lineup against Australia in a three-man pace attack. He has now racked up 14 wickets in three Tests.
Ngidi has all the qualities that defines a fast bowler: height, strength, speed, precision and pace. Very similar to a teammate of a similar age – Rabada.
Rabada took only two wickets in his first three games. His following series against England, however, saw him finish with 22 wickets.
Ngidi acknowledged Rabada’s aggressive approach to the game, but admitted that it is what differentiates them from each other.
‘He is an aggressive cricketer. That’s just the way he plays. I am a different type of person. I’m a lot more reserved as a person‚ so I can never say I want to want to be Rabada. I’ve got my own abilities‚ my own skills and traits.’
Ngidi defended his bowling partner, who was charged by the ICC for his ‘send-offs’ after taking a wicket, which led to a two-Test ban.
‘It is really competitive out there and your emotions take over,’ said Ngidi.
‘Everything happens in the moment,’ said Ngidi. ‘You try to control as much as possible, but the game means so much to us as players that you can’t really hold yourself back if you get excited or happy.’
Despite Rabada’s transgressions, he managed to excel in the first two Tests against Australia, taking 15 scalps, which pushed him to the summit of the ICC rankings.
‘It’s really was amazing to see, to be out there with him as well,’ said Ngidi, after Rabada finished with his fourth 10-wicket haul to help the Proteas to a six-wicket win.
‘He is a great cricketer. To pull off a performance like that… seeing the way he went about it gave me even more motivation on the other side. If it’s your day, you have to make it count.’
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images