Becoming a champion like Lungi Ngidi is easy – it’s remaining a champion that’s the challenging part.
Ever so often it happens that youngsters cannot handle success succumbing to various temptations.
So it was exciting to see latest South African cricket star Lungi Ngidi turning up at cricket practice at Assupol Tuks Cricket just two days after his heroics during the second cricket test against India at SuperSport Park.
Nobody had expected the Protea man-of-the-match to mingle with the young players, sharing a few jokes and talking cricket.
But those who know Ngidi are not surprised and according to them, he was just true to himself.
Toby Sutcliffe, acting CEO at TuksSport, still remembers his spirited performance during the Red Bull Campus Cricket World Final.
Even though he did not play during last year’s South African Universities Tournament, he was there to support his Assupol TuksCricket teammates.
‘That’s who Lungi is. Loyal. It has been a privilege for everybody at Tuks to have played a small part in helping Lungi become the cricketer he is. We will always support him, and I’m sure that he is going to take many more wickets for South Africa,’ said Sutcliffe.
Kruger van Wyk (Assupol TuksCricket head coach) says Ngidi is a player who any coach would love to go to ‘war’ with because on the field he does nothing by half-measures and thrives on giving it his all to enable a victory.
‘With such an attitude I’m not surprised that he made the most of his chance to play Test cricket for South Africa.
‘The amazing thing is that in spite of taking seven wickets against India as well as receiving the man of the match reward he’s still the same Lungi Ngidi who played for Assupol Tuks – a humble guy with a real passion for cricket and loyal to the bone. That makes him indeed an outstanding player as well as a person.’
Ngidi makes no secret about the fact that he relishes the challenge to outfoxing and intimidating batsmen.
‘As a bowler, you don’t usually think about taking wickets your only focus is on making sure that you bowl a good line and length and that you hit the right areas to pressurise the batsman.
‘Every time I run into bowl I see it as a competition of skills between myself and the batsman. A competition I obviously want to win,’ said Ngidi.
Ngidi who grew up in the small suburb of Kloof in KwaZulu-Natal said his love for cricket started when he watched Bakers Mini-Cricket on television.
‘I just knew that this was the game I wanted to play. I always wanted to bowl. It did not seem fun standing with a bat in hand waiting to hit a ball.’
According to him, it Chris van Noordwyk (Assupol Tuks bowling coach) who worked hours with him in the nets that helped him improve his bowling action to where it is now.
Picture of Ngidi with the next generation of starts courtesy of Blanche Conradie