PORT ELIZABETH - Comparisons are inevitable. It is a part of our DNA. An intrinsic part of our daily lives.
So, when there are two young fast bowlers competing on the international stage for the Proteas, the scrutiny will not just be on the way and how they deliver the ball, but also a microscopic dissection of their characters.
The scrutiny becomes even more intense when Kagiso Rabada commits a series of offences that led to him being banned for two Test matches on Monday, which has ultimately ruled the 22-year-old out of the on-going series against Australia pending an appeal from Cricket South Africa.
Automatically the focus then switches to Lungisani Ngidi, and with it the responsibility of not only being a wicket-taker for South Africa but also the chief of Rabada’s defence counsel.
“Everything happens in the moment. You don’t have any control. You try to control as much as possible, but the game means so much to us as players that you can’t really hold yourself back if you excited or happy. He is an aggressive cricketer,” Ngidi said of the St George’s Park Man of the Match.
Even though Ngidi is still in the infancy of his international career, having debuted just three Test matches ago at Centurion, in comparison to Rabada’s experience of 28 games, the 21-year-old tearaway from KwaZulu-Natal has already displayed a completely different temperament on the field.
Ngidi too claimed the big wicket of David Warner in Australia’s first innings here in Port Elizabeth, and although there was plenty of emotion in his celebration, it was nowhere close to Rabada’s eruption when he dismissed the Australian opener in the second innings.
“That’s just the way he plays,” Ngidi said. “I am a different type of person. It is really is competitive out there and your emotions take over.
“He is a great bowler to learn from and get information from, but I am starting to find my own feet. I can’t say I want to be KG. I am a different type of person, a lot more reserved. I have my own abilities. I have my own skills.
"You don’t really have to say much. I think maybe just a look, that’s what I would say is aggression. It is the areas you bowl, that’s puts a batsmen under pressure, your presence on the field, just knowing you’re there.”
Having been brought into the starting XI at the expense of the experienced Morne Morkel at St George’s Park, Ngidi certainly proved his worth with figures of 3/51 and 2/24 across both Australian innings.
However, Rabada claimed match-figures of 11/150 and proved to be the difference between the two teams, which allowed South Africa to level the series heading to Cape Town. Ngidi was certainly in awe of his teammate’s contribution.
“It really was amazing to see, to be out there with him as well. He is a great cricketer. To pull off a performance like that, it is good to see. Seeing the way he went about it gave me even more motivation on the other side,” the youngster explained.
The South African selectors are still in discussion about the make-up of the squad for the remaining two Tests at Newlands and Wanderers.
It is unlikely that veteran fast bowler Dale Steyn will be included for Newlands due to the 34-year-old having yet to play a competitive match since January, leaving Knights seamer Duanne Olivier the frontrunner to join up with the Proteas.
Morkel, of course, is also still part of the squad before he heads off into the sunset of retirement at the conclusion of this series. Ngidi is confident South Africa have their bases covered, even without the brilliant Rabada.
“We will still be looking to come hard at the Australians, even missing KG. We will still look to attack and put them under pressure.”