CAPE TOWN – Lungi Ngidi, South Africa’s highest white-ball wicket-taker in 2020 so far, has given himself a six out of 10 for his performances over the past summer and believes there is room for improvement.
Ngidi did not play any of South Africa’s four home Tests after injuring a hamstring in the Mzansi Super League (MSL) in mid-December last year but was part of all six T20Is and four of the five completed ODIs and finished with 25 wickets in total. “If I had to rate my performance over the last summer, I probably rate it at about a six. It was good, but to me it still wasn’t good enough,” Ngidi said. “There were a few games where I could have gone for a lot less runs. I picked up a few wickets and that’s my job, so I was happy with that but it’s not the finished product. I still feel I can deliver a whole lot more and a whole lot better.”
The numbers show he is not wrong about being expensive. Ngidi’s T20I economy rate this year has been 10.6 while he conceded 5.67 runs an over in the ODIs. Both are his highest over the three years of his international career but need to be assessed in context. His most expensive ODI performance came in Johannesburg against England where his first five overs cost 52 runs but he returned to take 3 for 11 in four overs at the death and almost helped South Africa snatch victory. Similarly, in the three T20Is where he conceded more than 10 runs an over, Ngidi was among the wickets, and got rid of Ben Stokes in his penultimate over in Centurion, taking two wickets in his final spell against England in Durban, and playing a key part in defending 43 off the last five overs against Australia in Port Elizabeth.
Ngidi finished the home summer with a career-best 6 for 58 in the ODI in Bloemfontein where he took wickets at the top and tail of the innings to cap off a superb comeback from injury and fitness concerns. He credited the CSA conditioning camp, which took place in January for Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts and Sisanda Magala, and bowling coach Charl Langeveldt for his success. “Every person has a different formula and I was still trying to figure mine out, so going to that camp helped me do that. I figured out that I have probably got to work a lot harder than most people. It doesn’t come as naturally to me,” he said. “Having Langeveldt back has been really good for me. He is really supportive and encourages the way I think.