South Africa pacer Lungi Ngidi has said he was “taken aback” after International Cricket Council (ICC) banned fellow paceman Kagiso Rabada for two Tests. He also said that he was forced to rethink his actions as a player after what happened to Rabada after second Test between South Africa and Australia which the Proteas won.
“Their judgement is the final call. I’ve got no right to say they’re wrong. We just take care of what we can on the field,” Ngidi was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz. “‘KG’, as a player he knows he might have crossed the line. Maybe not. Who are we to say where the line is? It’s an interesting situation. I’ve never been part of it. Coming into international cricket and seeing something like this happen, it does take you aback and make you rethink your actions as a player.”
ICC handed Rabada a ban of two Test matches after he was charged with Level 2 offence. Match referee Jeff Crowe gave Rabada three demerit points to Rabada’s record which took his total to 8 points resulting in a ban. Crowe thought that the fast bowler’s shoulder contact with Australia captain Steve Smith on day one of the Port Elizabeth Test was both inappropriate and deliberate.
Rabada himself admitted that he has let himself and his team down with his actions. Now, South Africa will miss him for the remaining Test of the four-match series which is tied 1-1.
Ngidi and Rabada were teammates during their U19 days and both played for South Africa. They know each other well and Ngidi thinks that Rabada is naturally aggressive pacer and comes out in the game.
“You can be aggressive with your actions, with what you say, or – in general, for me – the areas you bowl,” Ngidi said. “Putting a batsman under pressure, having a presence, letting him know that you’re there. Those are the things I lean towards as a cricketer. I don’t really have to say much. I feel just a look may be good enough. Those are the kinds of things I say are aggression.”
Ngidi is South Africa’s latest pace bowling find and he is slowly finding his feet in the team. He says that though he has a lot to learn from Rabada, he does not want to follow his teammates footsteps.
“I’m starting to find my own feet. He’s a great bowler to get information from and to learn from. But I am a different person. I’m a lot more reserved as a person, so I can never say I want to want to be ‘KG’ Rabada. I’ve got my own abilities, my own skills and traits. Having him give me a bit of advice here and there is really helpful. It’s helping me improve as a person and as a cricketer.”
Ngidi is son of parents who are domestic workers and he did not expect to make it this big in cricket. Since making his debut against India in January, he has been on the rise. He was picked for the second Test ahead of Morne Morkel and justified that selection with five wickets.
“I didn’t expect the national contact but I will take it in my stride as well. I’m just really enjoying everything that’s happening. The pace might be a quick but taking it every day at a time,” he said.
Now, he can step up. With Rabada all set to miss the third Test (Rabada can still appeal against ban), Ngidi has a big responsibility of playing a bigger role in South Africa pace battery.
“The thing is if he is not there, we are a well-rounded bowling team,” Ngidi said. “We’ve got very experienced guys in Morne and Vernon (Philander). They know how to lead bowling attacks. Also bringing me into the attack. They know how to give information and pretty much display what to do in the field. It will be a massive loss if (Rabada) is not there but it does give another person the opportunity to step up and fill the gap and come hard at the Australians. Even though we are missing KG, we will still put a lot of pressure on them.”