Proteas debutant Lungi Ngidi says it was a struggle to get back to full fitness after a lengthy injury layoff.
The 21-year-old had a tough recovery from a back injury, which put him out of action for almost half of last year.
But he took 9-83 during his Sunfoil Series comeback for the Titans, against the Highveld Lions, and impressed in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, taking the second-most wickets in the tournament.
Those performances, and the injury to Dale Steyn, gave the young speedster the opportunity to make his Test debut in the current Test against India at Centurion.
After taking 1-26 in nine overs on Sunday, Ngidi spoke to the media about his injury struggles.
‘That was probably one of the biggest challenges I’ve had in my career, going from such a high to such a low in such a short space of time,’ he said. ‘It was tough for me because I thought I was doing all the right things and the results just weren’t going my way.’
However, Ngidi never gave up on his Proteas dream and trained hard to get his body right.
‘I also had a lot of time to reflect and get to know myself as a person and I got through it,’ he said. ‘I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was and it helped me with a lot of confidence going forward.
‘The whole off-season I was actually in the gym. I had to lose a lot of weight,’ he added. ‘I think one of the main things was diet and changing my lifestyle. That was very difficult but it helped me in the long run.
‘A lot of credit must go to our trainer and physio and also our coach. We had to have a few hard chats behind closed doors and some honest chats as well.’