The incredible rise of Lungi Ngidi
South African cricket has been blessed with an unending supply of high-quality pace bowlers over the years. The latest quick and imposing seamer to have emerged from the Rainbow Nation is Lungisani Ngidi.
The right-arm pacer powered South Africa to a solid victory against India with his 6/39 in the 2nd innings, which came in the second Test of a three-match series between the two sides earlier this year. He bowled with great pace and extracted good bounce from the surface. The stock ball, which is one of the biggest weapons in his Arsenal, moves into the right-hander and does that at a disconcerting bounce, more often than not.
The pacer was born to a pair of domestic workers and was raised in Kloof in Durban. His parents worked as domestic helpers in and around the city. Ngidi's life changed when he won a scholarship for high school at the prestigious Hilton College due to his immense sporting talent.
There was a time when the 21-year-old did not have the money to buy a cricketing kit. In fact, he recently revealed that the reason he chose to become a bowler is that he could never have afforded a batting kit in his childhood.
As years went by, a lot of other universities knocked on the doors of this bowler, whose raw talent was making waves in the schooling circuit by then. After careful consideration, Ngidi ended up playing for the University of Pretoria.
His humble background has kept him grounded even today and at 21 years of age, he already is a role model for aspiring cricketers across the globe.
Just two days after bowling South Africa to victory against India, Ngidi went back to the University of Pretoria for a social gathering. He met and greeted everyone from his earlier days there, and clicked tons of pictures with the excited students. His gesture shows that the young lad hasn’t forgotten his roots in spite of the early success he has had in international cricket today. This speaks a lot about his humility and simple nature.
Ngidi was replaced an injured Dale Steyn in his debut test match. Those are big boots to fill not just for a debutant, but for any contemporary seamer in world cricket today.
However, the youngster did not let that overwhelm him and seized the opportunity with both hands. His maiden test wicket was Parthiv Patel. The ball was angled in and seamed away ever so slightly from the left-hander, to take the edge off his willow and fall into the gloves of the keeper.
Ngidi was ecstatic, so were his teammates and so was everyone else in the stadium. AB de Villiers and De Kock did a celebratory dance with the talented seamer. It was a moment to cherish for him, one which he would remember for years to come.
He had figures of 1/51 in the first innings of the match.
He came into his own when India batted for the second time in the Test, where he scalped his maiden five-wicket haul in international cricket. Apart from a six-wicket haul, the pacer also affected 2 crucial run outs in the match. Cheteshwar Pujara was the victim on both these occasions.
Ngidi was adjudged Man of the Match for his incredible performance throughout the Test. His bowling display reminded everybody of Lance Klusener's 8/64 against India on his debut in 1996. What made Klusener's wickets special was that they were scalped in the 4th innings of the Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Ngidi looked impressive in his first Test match against Australia earlier this month, where he picked up five wickets over two innings at Port Elizabeth. It sure seems like he is a reliable and long-term prospect for the Proteas.
Ngidi is now a part of an illustrious list of bowlers who have taken five-wicket hauls in their maiden Test. This list includes four South Africans, which, in turn, shows the quality of fast-bowling that is developed in the Rainbow Nation.
South Africa have unearthed a gem yet again this year. It comes in the form of a tall and dangerous Lungi Ngidi.