Vincent Barnes: Proteas must put an arm around Lungi Ngidi at Cricket World Cup

Proteas fat bowler Lungi Ngidi is being backed to shine at the Cricket World Cup in India. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

Proteas fat bowler Lungi Ngidi is being backed to shine at the Cricket World Cup in India. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

Published Oct 5, 2023


Former Proteas bowling coach Vincent Barnes has backed Lungi Ngidi to fill South Africa’s fast-bowling void at the upcoming 50-over World Cup in India.

Barnes, who recently retired from his Cricket South Africa duties, has extensive knowledge of working with SA’s fast bowlers from grassroots to international level.

The 63-year-old is regarded as the fast bowling “guru” in SA, and was part of the Proteas coaching staff at the last One-Day International World Cup held in India in 2011.

He admits that losing the express pace of Anrich Nortjé is a “massive blow”, and that Sisanda Magala’s death-bowling skills will be missed, but is confident that Ngidi can take the step up.

The Proteas will certainly welcome a fit and raring-to-go Ngidi after the 27-year-old had been out of sorts for the past 12 months.

There were, however, positive signs in the Proteas’ warm-up match against New Zealand earlier this week that Ngidi was beginning to find his rhythm after he claimed a three-wicket haul.

“Lungi has been off the boil for a while and he didn’t have a good series against Australia, and I was a bit concerned about him,” Barnes told IOL Sport.

“But earlier during the winter, we were at a bowling camp and I was very impressed with him. He bowled exceptionally well at that camp.

“He was bowling with good pace and he looked physically good ... strong and pace on the ball.

“So, I was surprised he didn’t bowl that well against Australia, but I see that he’s bowled well now in the warm-ups.

“I am sure he will step up, the experience is there. He’s also the type of bowler who just needs an arm around him to tell him that it’s going to be okay, and that’s how you’re going to get the best out of him.

“There are a number of bowlers who are like that … I remember having to give Dale (Steyn) and Morné (Morkel) some ‘TLC’ at that World Cup in 2011. Lungi is that type of bowler.”

Ngidi enjoys a favourable record against the Proteas’ World Cup opening opponents Sri Lanka, averaging 20.10 in comparison to his overall 27.60. Equally, Ngidi also knows the conditions at Saturday’s venue, the Arun Jaitley Stadium (formerly Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium), intimately well as he plays his IPL cricket there for the Delhi Capitals.

Barnes expects the conditions at the World Cup to be vastly different from what the Proteas experienced 12 years ago, due to the timing of the event. Back then, the World Cup was staged prior to the IPL in March, while this time around, it’s in October and November.

Already the warm-up watches were disrupted by rain, and the dew factor will certainly come into play in the day-night matches.

All the Proteas’ nine group matches are day-night affairs.

“The conditions play a major role in the composition of the team. We played early in the year. None of our games were rain-affected,” Barnes said.

“If you get rain-affected matches, it changes things entirely.

“You don’t want Duckworth-Lewis to be a factor, especially when you are playing against the associate teams.

“Our tournament was also dominated by spin. We played three spinners during the tournament, and came across a pitch in Chennai against England which was really dry and cracked up.

“I don’t think that will be the case now.”