Ottis Gibson has a very cordial relationship with the South Africa media. He is open to the tough questions, and offers up honest answers.
But even he put in a special request ahead of this World Cup for his young players not to be reminded about the Proteas’ greatest “choke” of all time that set in motion a myriad of chokes since.
“Many of them were not even out of diapers,” he quipped.
Sorry Ottis, the temptation was just too much to resist, particularly with the Proteas being back here at the scene of the crime, Edgbaston. And with it being the eve of the 20th anniversary – when Allan Donald was left stranded at the one end of the pitch among a bunch of raucous Australians, it was as expected as the rainfall during this World Cup.
“Do you have any memories of that semi-final, did it have any effect on South African cricket?” was the stinger to Lungi Ngidi.
The 23-year-old fast bowler, though, flat-batted it with a greater resolution than most Proteas batsmen have offered up the past fortnight.
“When you look at that game it was crucial for the guys at that stage,” Ngidi said of the fateful 1999 World Cup semi-final. “It doesn't have any effect on us now for it is a new tournament for us. If we keep looking back at things that have happened it’s not going to help us going forward. We have another game to play here and we are looking to win.”
South Africa certainly can’t dwell in the past. It’s only the present that matters. And that’s the Black Caps here tomorrow in another ride-or-die clash. New Zealand are the form team of the tournament too, unbeaten after four matches, with only a washed out clash against India blemishing their 100% record.
Fortunately for the Proteas they will have Ngidi back in their bowling arsenal here at Edgbaston after the big Titan came through a rigorous fitness test today. Ngidi missed the last couple of matches due to a tight hamstring.
There is no time for Ngidi to find his rhythm though. He needs to hit the ground running, especially after being too short in his last game against Bangladesh at The Oval.
“For me personally the wicket dictates what lengths I bowl and what variations I would bowl,” Ngidi said. “The covers have been on the field for a while, probably going to seam and nip around a bit. You would obviously go with a fuller length. Where the wickets were a lot drier, we had to go to our variations like the slower balls and bumpers. Having seen the wicket today it is going to be on the slower side, I think a five metres length, so a bit fuller.
“The one thing I have always been told by Ottis is to hold my length. I didn't do that in the first game against England, so that's probably the one thing i need to do to make sure I am putting batsmen under pressure,” he added.@ZaahierAdams