LONDON – Eoin Morgan may not believe that his team intimidate the opposition in the way they freely hurl their willows around, but young Proteas fast bowler Lungi Ngidi has admitted that it took a while for him to realise “these people are humans, just like me”.
Leading up to Thursday’s World Cup opener at The Oval, England had amassed 24 300-plus scores since April 2015 at home. They also accounted for four of the five 400-plus totals since the 2015 World Cup.
The hosts’ fearsome reputation certainly seemed to weigh heavily on the young South African fast bowler’s mind in his first spell. Ngidi, making his World Cup debut, and also only on his first tour of England, the 23-year-old seemed over-awed by the occasion.
A regular wicket-taker with the new-ball, he instead conceded 24 runs from his first four overs.
“I was very disappointed with my bowling performance upfront. I might have been over-thinking it. All the talk was how they post totals of 350 so maybe that was at the back of my mind,” he admitted after the 104-run defeat.
England’s master batsman Joe Root was the chief-aggressor during this period, with the elegant right-hander leaning on anything over-pitched to caress it through the covers.
Due to the instinctive way Root pushes hard at the ball outside the off-stump, Ngidi did though manage to create an opportunity - only for the outside edge to fly through the vacant gully region.
It was, however, the confidence booster Ngidi required to settle his nerves, and after adjusting to the conditions too, and of course settling into the roaring atmosphere at The Oval, he came back to claim a credible 3/66.
“There were a few opportunities in the Powerplay, where they nicked it through the slips and I started to think, 'These people are humans, just like me,” he said.
“I listened to what the wicket was telling me. Slower balls were working so I stuck to that. Even though they were trying to come after me, they couldn't seem to get it away.”
OUT!— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) May 30, 2019
Taking pace off the ball, Lungi going at under 6⃣ runs an over, the dots have built some pressure and the pressure has brought the wicket. #CWC19#ENGvSA #ProteaFire
Onto the final over we go!
ENG, 300/8 AFTER 49 OVERS. pic.twitter.com/E2oHFYjFdE
Although Ngidi’s three wickets – Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali - were all crucial to restricting England to a par total, he realised he did not perform his role on the day.
“I was happy to take three sticks but would have preferred two up front,” he said.
Ngidi, and his teammates, don’t much time to dwell on the opening day defeat. Bangladesh lay in wait at the same on venue on Sunday.
“Everyone had hyped up their first game to the point where you started feeling as if it was the final already but we didn't let that get to us. We know what we need to do in order to get to the semi-finals,” Ngidi said.@ZaahierAdams