• Proteas hold breath over Ngidi, Stuurman

    Proteas coach Mark Boucher has confirmed that fast bowlers Lungi Ngidi and Glenton Stuurman have been suffering from small niggles in the lead up to Saturday’s opening Test match against Sri Lanka.

    The first of two red-ball encounters will get under way at SuperSport Park in Centurion where the Proteas pace attack is already under a bit of pressure due to the absence of Kagiso Rabada and Beuran Hendricks from the squad.

    Boucher told reporters on Thursday that he was slightly concerned on Wednesday that the pair might not be fit and 100% in time for Saturday but that both Ngidi and Stuurman appeared in much better shape during a training session on Thursday morning.

    ‘Lungs [Lungi Ngidi] hasn’t been feeling great and Glenton also had a bit of a bruise but I was a bit more worried yesterday [Wednesday] but today at practice they both came through very well. Lungi bowled really well at training today with a little bit of extra load to push himself and he came out with flying colours,’ said Boucher.

    Stuurman is in line to make his Test debut for the Proteas after Hendricks was withdrawn from the camp on Tuesday following a positive Covid-19 result last week.

    READ: Proteas announce updated squad

    According to Boucher, the 28-year-old, who plays his franchise cricket for the Warriors, and Ngidi will both have a big role to play given the unavailability of Rabada and Hendricks.

    ‘Glenton also had a bit of a niggle but he seemed to have come through really well today at training. The big thing is you push them two days before, if they wake up tomorrow and they are feeling good then at least they put their names forward for selection which is always nice for us to have, especially with a few of our frontline bowlers out of the equation,’ the coach added.

    Both the Proteas and the Sri Lankan squads are residing at the Irene Country Lodge under strict bio-secure regulations with the spotlight firmly on Cricket South Africa, following the drama that ensued from the cancelled ODI series against England earlier this month.

    Boucher, though, emphasised the importance for the Proteas to get back on to the field, despite the cloud of uncertainty currently hanging over the country’s ability to welcome touring sides.

    ‘There is no cricket going on in South Africa at the moment, which is disturbing. We want to try and get these players on to the field, it is no use talking about the game of cricket. The best way prepare yourself actually is to get out there and play so as a coach I want the guys to play.

    ‘If we have to go through certain hoops, albeit very strict things to get us to play a game of cricket, then we have to do it and I’ll certainly drive that from a coaching perspective.’

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    Andre Huisamen