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
"He was incredibly
well-respected by his juniors and his peers ... he's always had an engaging
Carlisle, who coached the Hilton
first side with former Zimbabwe international Neil Johnson, remembers Ngidi
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
"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
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
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."