Hilton bowler selected for SA U19 side to tour India

2013-07-10 00:00

LUNGI Ngidi of Kloof in Durban dreams of one day opening the bowling for the Proteas alongside his hero Dale Steyn.

The 16-year-old Hilton College Grade 11 pupil recently found out he was selected into the South African U19 cricket squad to tour India in September before the final side is picked for next year’s U19 World Cup in ­Dubai.

The news — which came while he was watching a movie in his room — surprised Lungi, who felt his performance at the training camp last week had let him down. But he told The Witness he was looking forward to the challenge that lay ahead.

“I’m looking forward to playing against other national players as I have never played at this level before,” said the fast bowler, who opens the bowling for the Hilton College first team and the U19 KZN Dolphins side.

“I’m also just looking forward to travelling with the guys and to represent my country,” he said, adding that he first picked up a cricket ball at the age of nine.

He’s always dreamed of one day representing his country, but never believed that he could until his coach at Hilton, Shane Gaffney, told him he had a chance.

“The coaches at Hilton have been there for me. It all really started when I was in Grade 9.”

Lungi has always looked up to legendary former Proteas opener Makhaya Ntini, and also mentioned Steyn, Australia’s Brett Lee and the West Indies’ Kemar Roach as favourites.

He is confident that the group selected to go on tour would be good enough to bring the trophy back home.

“The coaches have told us we still have to work hard to make the team that will go to the World Cup. We have a strong, positive side and we have a very good chance of bringing it home,” he said.

Lungi, the youngest of four brothers and on a scholarship at Hilton College, said his parents were ecstatic when they heard the news he had made the side.

“The whole day yesterday [Monday] they were coming into my room to ask me if I’d heard anything.”

His father, Jerome Ngidi, a maintenance worker at Kloof Junior School, said he was proud of his son.

“I’m very happy and thankful that he has been given this opportunity. He comes from a poor family and he has done really well.

“He has always focused on sports. He swims, plays rugby and cricket and I’m happy that he has remained a good boy who respects me, his coaches and his teachers,” he said.

Paul Guthrie, the director of marketing at Hilton College, said they were excited that Lungi was selected into the U19 side.

“The big ambition now is to get him to go to the World Cup,” Guthrie said.

“He’s a very polite boy who is also well liked. He’s also now a role model for the junior boys,” he said.

Lungi has been in the school’s first team cricket side for the last two years, said Guthrie.

“We have very big ambitions for him. He is 16 turning 17, still only in Grade 11, and he is very quick for a schoolboy.

“We don’t have a speed gun to see how fast he bowls, but I would say it’s in the region of 120 km/h. I think this boy can go all the way,” said Guthrie.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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