The 23-year-old looked back to full fitness after being sidelined for the last two months with a left side strain, as the Proteas completed a “centre” practice at the High Performance Centre in Tshwane yesterday.
With their wicket-taking bowlers viewed as central to South Africa’s World Cup strategy, reports out of England that the pitches for the tournament would be batsmen friendly with little bounce, easy pace and no sideways movement, might be cause for concern, but Ngidi has a more optimistic outlook.
“People like to see high totals, so they will probably prepare wickets as best as they can to see that. We are not too worried about a flat pitch, on any given day (the opposition) could be three down quickly and then the wicket won’t seem so flat,” Ngidi said.
The current series between England and Pakistan, has seen both teams comfortably top 300 in the two completed matches, with England looking particularly ominous with a batting line-up that places an emphasis on all-out attack.
But Ngidi feels there is enough variety in SA’s bowling line-up to make them a serious contender for the World Cup, even if they aren’t among the favourites. “Ottis (Gibson, the Proteas coach) has told all of us we need to be ready at any time to bowl. The way we play is to try and take wickets at any stage of the game, it’s the only way to keep teams to a low total. That gives us the best chance of winning,” he added.
Ngidi, Kagsio Rabada, Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir are all strike bowlers and SA’s captain, Faf du Plessis, is not going to rein them in at any point asking them to try and contain opposing batsmen.
It’s a high-risk strategy, but so is throwing the bat hard at the ball as seems to be the modern way, and fighting fire with fire does seem optimal in those circumstances.
The opening match against the all-powerful English, will provide a good barometer for the Proteas.
They will go into it, as underdogs, not always a situation SA teams have found themselves in at the World Cup.
The lower expectations may prove beneficial and certainly for that first game, they don’t feel they have as much to lose as England, should they not emerge victorious.
“We are well aware that they are probably under a lot more pressure than we are; they are hosts, they’re considered to be favourites and that’s an advantage for us,” said Ngidi.
“We obviously want to win and if we do, it would send a massive statement, if it’s not a win it doesn’t throw us out of the tournament.”@shockerhess