Revitalised Lungi leans on Charl

Steve Smith of Australia and Lungi Ngidi of South Africa celebrating during the 2nd One Day International match between South Africa and Australia at Mangaung Oval on March 04, 2020 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images)

Having impressed as the Proteas’ bowling top dog in the latter part of the season, the speedster says the national bowling guru has been a breath of fresh air.

If the South African cricket public needs extra affirmation over why Proteas coach Mark Boucher was so eager to get Charl Langeveldt back into the national setup, they only need to ask Lungi Ngidi his opinion.

By as late as mid-December, Langeveldt was still part of the Bangladesh coaching staff under former Proteas mentor Russell Domingo, but Cricket South Africa – despite being dogged various administrative issues at the time – quickly negotiated his release.

He had rather surprisingly been let go in 2017 with the appointment of Ottis Gibson, who handled the bowling portfolio himself.

“Having Charl back has been really good for me,” Ngidi said on Thursday.

“He’s very supportive and encourages the way I think. That’s very important because as a bowler I then feel very comfortable executing my plans. I never feel as if the bowling coach is going to disagree with what I’m trying to do.”

Indeed, there had been stages during a challenge home season where a raw Proteas attack seemed to blatantly follow their own heads in the heat of battle.

And while Langeveldt didn’t deny his frustration, he also wasn’t going to become dictatorial about it.

That reaction, Ngidi believes, is down to Langeveldt himself having experienced the pressures of international cricket.

“He understands. He’s been in situations where he’s had the ball and had to deviate from the game-plan. Charl has a lot of knowledge, he was a very skilful player during his playing career. He really has helped my cricket a lot,” said the strapping quick.

With Kagiso Rabada struggling for rhythm due to injury and a mid-season rest period, Ngidi, who had to recover from injury himself, was quickly thrust into a prominent role in the attack.

He took a while to find some consistency, but crucially never lost his innate wicket-taking ability.

Another impressive aspect of his play was how he could vary his pace.

Ngidi eventually ended with an impressive haul of 31 wickets in 13 matches after returning for the T20s against England.

Encouragingly, he feels he’ll only get better.

“I’d give my season a 6. It was good, but, personally, it still wasn’t good enough,” said Ngidi.

“There were a few games where I could’ve gone for fewer runs. It’s not the finished product, I can deliver a whole lot more.”

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