Proteas

School coach: Ngidi a 'special' human being

2018-01-18 16:55
Lungi Ngidi (Supplied)

Cape Town – While he has been a success on the field from a very young age, it is Lungi Ngidi’s personality off of it that makes him particularly special.

That is the view of his first team cricket coach, Sean Carlisle, who worked with Ngidi between 2012 and 2014 at Hilton College.

Ngidi’s “engaging personality” ensured that he was liked and respected by everybody at school, Carlisle says.

"We're incredibly proud of what he's achieved cricket-wise, but we're probably prouder of what a special human being he is," Carlisle told Sport24 on Thursday.

"Even at school, he was humble and down to earth and always had a smile on his face that everybody loved.

"He was incredibly well-respected by his juniors and his peers ... he's always had an engaging personality."

Carlisle, who coached the Hilton first side with former Zimbabwe international Neil Johnson, remembers Ngidi well. 

Having joined Hilton on a scholarship from Highbury Preparatory, where he had also been given a scholarship in his primary school years, Ngidi's pace stood out from the very beginning. 

"He was always quick, right from the start, even from U-14. He always had natural and easy pace, which he still has," Carlisle said.

"It was that natural ability to bowl quickly without too much effort ... he had that control.”

Away from cricket, Ngidi was a talented rugby player and he turned out for the A-sides of his first three age-group years at Hilton. 

His build today might not suggest it, but Ngidi was a fullback. 

But, by the time he was in Grade 11, he was encouraged to stop playing rugby and focus on his cricket. 

At that young age, Ngidi had already started to experience problems with staying fit.

"His school career was a bit like the start of his professional career and he suffered from a quite a lot of injuries," said Carlisle, adding that Ngidi had experienced some back trouble.

But, once he ditched the rugby, Ngidi started excelling at first team level and while he may not have always been destructive in the wickets column, he struck fear into opposition batsmen for three straight years.

"Those balls that just take off a length, those will be our memories of Lungi charging in and bouncing guys out," Carlisle said.

"He was the classic schoolboy that used to terrorise guys on the one side while the bowler on the other side would pick up all the wickets. Lungi got a lot of wickets for the bowlers around him.

"He almost had too much pace for schoolboy level so he beat the bat a lot."

Now, just a little more than three years after finishing school, Ngidi is on top of the world having bowled the Proteas to victory against India in the second Test at Centurion with a devastating 6/39 in the second innings.

Things are moving along at a rapid rate, and showing no signs of slowing down, but Carlisle has no concerns that fame will go to Ngidi’s head.

"It's nice to see the good guys doing well, and he is definitely one of the good guys," Carlisle said, adding that Ngidi's tough beginnings had seen him grow up in a poor family. 

Ngidi's mother was a domestic worker and his father a maintenance worker at a local school.

"He has always been so proud of them (his parents). They have supported him through everything." 

A young Lungi Ngidi with his father, Jermone Ngidi.

Read more on:    proteas  |  lungi ngidi  |  cricket
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