Langeveldt 'proud' of returning speedster Ngidi

Lungi Ngidi (AFP)
Lungi Ngidi (AFP)

Once one of South African cricket's brightest young fast bowling prospects, Lungi Ngidi hasn't had the easiest time on the international stage. 

It has been over three years since the 24-year-old debuted in a T20 against Sri Lanka at Centurion in 2017, and since then he has had more than his fair share of injury worries. 

From a side strain to back and knee trouble and even abdominal problems, Ngidi has struggled to the point where critics have raised concern over his ability to meet the physical requirements of playing international cricket. 

The most recent injury was a hamstring strain that ruled him out of the England Test series over the festive season.

It was around that time that Ngidi, under the instruction of new leadership in head coach Mark Boucher and director of cricket Graeme Smith, attended a Proteas conditioning camp. 

The message then was clear to Ngidi. He needed to work harder than those around him if he was to get his conditioning to an acceptable level. 

When Ngidi did return to the Proteas set-up for the limited overs series against England in February, it took him a while to get over what bowling coach Charl Langeveldt says was "ring rust". 

By the end of the summer, though, with three T20s and two ODIS under the belt against each of England and Australia, Ngidi had made headlines again for all of the right reasons. 

He has taken 12 wickets in his last three ODIs, including a career best 6/58 (10) against the Aussies last time out, while he has 13 wickets from his last six T20s. 

Over the course of the summer, Ngidi was South Africa's most destructive bowler in white ball cricket and particularly at the death. 

He knows that he is far from the finished product but his performances since returning from injury and the conditioning camp have been pleasing for all involved in the national set-up, especially Langeveldt. 

"When you come back from a long lay-off, you don't expect to perform right away," Langeveldt said on Tuesday.

"There was a lot of pressure on him to perform because it was such a young attack and he was regarded as one of the senior bowlers.

"He really handled it well and stepped up to the plate. I was so proud of him when he achieved what he did in the season having come back from injury. It says a lot about his character and the will to do well for his country.

"He really did well under pressure and that is the really good thing."

Ngidi would have been a shoo-in for June's tour of Sri Lanka for three ODIs and three T20s, but that trip has since been postponed because of the global coronavirus pandemic.  

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