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CricTracker Exclusive: I really enjoyed working with MS Dhoni in the IPL, says Lungi Ngidi

He also spoke about the South African players taking the Kolpak route.

Lungi Ngidi and MS Dhoni
Lungi Ngidi and MS Dhoni. (Photo Source: Twitter)

A tall, imposing paceman from Natal, Lungi Ngidi made his international debut at an early age of 21 and since then has only improved leaps and bounds. Looking at his exploits in the domestic T20 tournaments, the pacer was earlier touted to be an exciting prospect in the shortest format and accordingly, he debuted for South Africa in T20s itself. However, as time passed on, Ngidi became an all-format bowler for the Proteas and has never disappointed.

Lungi Ngidi’s rise has come at a perfect time for South Africa. In an era when the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel weren’t playing much due to an injury even as a few of the bowlers in the country going Kolpak, a bowler like Ngidi is a huge asset for the South African cricket.

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Injuries have been his nemesis though. After staying on the sidelines for quite a long period of time, Lungi Ngidi came back for the India tour to play the third and final Test of the series. His exploits at the international level also saw the fast bowler play in the IPL for the Chennai Super Kings.

Ngidi is now gearing up for the second season of Mzansi Super League (MSL), South Africa’s own T20 tournament, where he will play for the Tshwane Spartans alongside AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel. In an exclusive interview to CricTracker, Lungi Ngidi spoke about how MSL will be crucial for South African cricket and his experience of playing alongside MS Dhoni and a lot more.

Here are the excerpts:

You will be playing with AB de Villiers and a few other South Africa stars like Morne Morkel in MSL for Tshwane Spartans. Looking forward to it?

Lungi Ngidi and Morne Morkel
Lungi Ngidi and Morne Morkel. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Yeah! It’s been a long time since I’ve played alongside AB de Villiers. I have always enjoyed his energy on the field and just the person that he’s brings out the best cricketer in everyone around him. And yeah a lot of new faces and some familiar faces as well in the Tshwane Spartans. So it should be a really exciting and interesting tournament.

(Speaking about Morne Morkel) I had a great relationship with him since I joined the South African side. I wish I got to play many more years with him. Obviously life path took him on a different journey. It will be great to have him back. He will be playing at the home ground. It will be really exciting to see what he brings to the game.

How important according to you is MSL for South Africa cricket?

This is a great start for us in terms of T20 leagues around the world. We are looking to get our own one going. So, it’s a massive step for us and a lot of people need to understand that it’s just a beginning. It’s only the second edition at the moment. I think there’s been a lot of criticism from a few people but they just need to understand that we’re just starting out.

I think within a few years time, it is going to be one of the most successful tournaments. Just look at the calibre of cricketers we have. Most of the guys have played in IPL, CPL and got some deals in Big Bash (BBL). Yeah, it’s a great tournament and very exciting. A big one for the future.

Lungi_Nigidi_International-Career

Any particular player you are looking forward to playing with in Tshwane Spartans?

Lutho Sipamla – I played a bit with him in the ‘A’ series in India and I enjoyed playing alongside him. He is a very hard worker. It should be very interesting to see how we all link up as bowlers with experience of Morne, myself, Tom Curran, the other seamers. It should be interesting working alongside those guys as well.

Your thoughts on Mark Boucher as Spartans head coach?

I think that’s the perfect man for the job. I am very familiar working with him and he calls it how he sees it. Strategy-wise he’s also been very good. I think he just brings the best out of players as well. So really happy to have him as a coach.

You have played Tests against India at home and away both. Which batsman did you find it tough to bowl at?

Lungi Ngidi
Lungi Ngidi. (Photo Source: Twitter)

At home, its completely different conditions. So it is difficult to say. But in India, obviously, Rohit (Sharma) was on fire and it seemed like anywhere you put the ball, he was going to hit a six. He was pretty difficult to bowl to. In our home conditions, I can’t really point out anyone in particular.

Your favourite current or former South African fast bowler?

Shaun Pollock is definitely one. His accuracy, skills speak for themselves. And currently, someone I’d say is very interesting. Anrich Nortje has come in and bowling with good pace. He’s finding his feet in international cricket. So that’s a very exciting prospect.

Who is your cricketing idol?

One of the guys that I’ve always looked up to is Kemar Roach. From watching him as a young fast bowler to where he is now. Maybe the pace isn’t there but the skill level hasn’t changed. And that’s why he is one of the greatest.

Your experience of playing with MS Dhoni in CSK during the IPL?

Lungi Ngidi
Chennai Super Kings’ Lungisani Ngidi celebrates fall of Rishabh Pant’s wicket. (Photo by Surjeet Yadav/IANS)

Very good experience for me. A lot of learning happened there. I was given a lot of responsibility as well in a short space of time. He (Dhoni) backed me, the coaching staff backed me and the players did as well. So I felt I just fit in the team quickly. Playing with Dhoni, I got a lot to learn from him.

Certain situations where you might be a day in the headlights, he’s able to just call me down and just remind that you know at the end of the day, it’s still a game. Very very good experience and I really enjoyed working with him.

Do you think lack of a stable future and financial insecurity is forcing cricketers to take the Kolpak Route?

Obviously finance is a massive thing and a massive part of the sport. And I firmly believe that every cricketer always wants to play for their country. But there comes certain stages where you find yourself not playing or you don’t see yourself in the future plans. You know it’s a difficult one (to comment on). Because it’s a personal choice.

No one forces you to sign a Kolpak or anything like that. But we can’t run away from it. Finances are a massive part of the sport and if someone picks to look after their family financially, you can’t really judge them on that. It’s always a personal decision in my eyes.

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