Ngidi to take control after Rabada’s suspension
COMPARISONS are inevitable.
It is a part of our DNA. An intrinsic part of our daily lives.
So, when there are two young fast bowlers competing on the international stage for the Proteas, the scrutiny will not just be on the way and how they deliver the ball, but also a microscopic dissection of their characters.
The scrutiny becomes even more intense when Kagiso Rabada commits a series of offences that led to him being banned for two Test matches on Monday, which has ultimately ruled the 22-year-old out of the on-going series against Australia pending an appeal from Cricket South Africa.
Automatically the focus then switches to Lungisani Ndigi, and with it the responsibility of not only being a wicket-taker for South Africa but also the chief of Rabada’s defence counsel.
“Everything happens in the moment. You don’t have any control. 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 excited or happy. He is an aggressive cricketer,” Ngidi said of the St George’s Park Man of the Match.
Even though Ngidi is still in the infancy of his international career, having debuted just three Test matches ago at Centurion, in comparison to Rabada’s experience of 28 games, the 21-year-old tearaway from KwaZulu-Natal has already displayed a completely different temperament on the field.
Ngidi too claimed the big wicket of David Warner in Australia’s first innings here in Port Elizabeth, and although there was plenty of emotion in his celebration, it was nowhere close to Rabada’s eruption when he dismissed the Australian opener in the second innings.
“That’s just the way he plays,” Ngidi said.
“I am a different type of person. It is really is competitive out there and your emotions take over.
“He is a great bowler to learn from and get information from, but I am starting to find my own feet. I can’t say I want to be KG. I am a different type of person, a lot more reserved. I have my own abilities. I have my own skills. You don’t really have to say much. I think maybe just a look, that’s what I would say is aggression. It is the areas you bowl, that’s puts a batsmen under pressure, your presence on the field, just knowing you’re there.” FORMER International Cricket Council match referee Mike Procter joined a growing list of those calling for the need for match referees to be given a platform to explain their decisions and sanctions to a wider audience.
In the wake of an explosive first two Test matches between South Africa and Australia, which both ended with players in the dock, Procter said he felt for Jeff Crowe, who has been under the spotlight as much as, if not even more than, the players.
“It hasn’t been easy for him, and it is a real pity those decisions have made as many headlines as the cricket itself, which has been terrific,” the former all-rounder bemoaned.
“I was always a fan of being able to front up to the media, and have the opportunity to put these things to rest. The speculation on how you arrived at a certain decision probably adds to the emotion around issues like this,
Having been brought into the starting XI at the expense of the experienced Morne Morkel at St George’s Park, Ngidi certainly proved his worth with figures of 3/51 and 2/24 across both Australian innings.
However, Rabada claimed match-figures of 11/150 and proved to be the difference between the two teams, which allowed South Africa to level the series heading to Cape Town.
Ngidi was certainly in awe of and that can’t have been easy for Jeff.
“Going in front of the media after a match, or once a decision has been taken, means there are no grey areas. It is definitely something worth looking at.”
The world’s top-ranked bowler in Test cricket, Kagiso Rabada, has been suspended for the last two matches of the series, after his run-ins with the Australian captain and vicecaptain in the second Test in Port Elizabeth. Procter said the current system of demerit points, which stay on the record for a period of two years, is a tough one.
“It is very difficult. It is a bit like the driving system in some countries, where you can rack up a lot of points, and then one parking ticket takes you over the edge, and you are banned from driving altogether. Rabada is definitely paying a big price for some mistakes he made a while ago.” his teammate’s contribution.
“It really was amazing to see, to be out there with him as well. He is a great cricketer. To pull off a performance like that, it is good to see. 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,” the youngster explained.
The South African selectors are still in discussion about the make-up of the squad for the remaining two Tests at Newlands
Expanding on what it means not to have the fast bowler playing in the last two matches, Procter said it was a real shame.
“It is a huge loss for the series. Rabada is clearly the best bowler on both sides, and to not have him taking part in the last two games really takes something out of the series,” Procter lamented. “He is a brilliant young bowler, and I have to agree with what AB de Villiers was saying. The senior players will have to take him in and help him through this, but he also has to look at himself.
“As a fast bowler, you will always have that fire in the belly. It is what helps you to bowl at the level you need to be the difference. Rabada has to learn to take that fire away from the batsmen, because it is taking away from brilliant performances.”
The third Test begins in Cape Town on 22 March. – LUNGANI ZAMA and Wanderers.
It is unlikely that veteran fast bowler Dale Steyn will be included for Newlands due to the 34-year-old having yet to play a competitive match since January, leaving Knights seamer Duanne Olivier the frontrunner to join up with the Proteas.
Morkel, of course, is also still part of the squad before he heads off into the sunset of retirement at the conclusion of this series. Ngidi is confident South Africa have their bases covered, even without the brilliant Rabada.
“We are a pretty well-rounded attack. We have good experience in Vern (Philander) and Morne, they know how to lead an attack. Obviously, it will be a massive blow but it does give us the opportunity to stand up and fill the gap. We will still be looking to come hard at the Australians, even missing KG. We will still look to attack and put them under pressure,” Ngidi said.