South Africa ace fast bowler Lungi Ngidi is in a good headspace and is not shaken after missing out few domestic seasons. He isn't jolted by recurring injuries and wants to come back strongly once action resumes on the playing field.
The 24-year-old wasn't available for four-match Test series against England in December after getting a hamstring injury during the Mzansi Super League (MSL) where he was representing Tshwane Spartans.
Ngidi's short career so far has been marred by injuries as after making his debut in 2017, he has encountered niggles, side strains, hip issues and several other nagging problems.
However, he hasn't lost his focus and is pretty adamant on returning to the field. He snapped up nine wickets in two matches when South Africa whitewashed Australia 3-0 in the last One-day International (ODI) series in their backyard in the 2019/2020 season.
“I'd say the road back to cricket wasn't as bad as people think,” Ngidi remarked. “I'm not shy to work hard, so it wasn't an unfamiliar area for me and to be honest, I didn't feel as though I was down and out.
Ngidi has realized that there is no one size fits all fitness regimen and plan for every bowler and so he is trying to understand what works best for him to avoid injury scares.
“Like I've always said, every person has a different formula and I was still trying to figure mine out and going to (fitness) camp with the CoE (Cricket South Africa Centre of Excellence in January) helped me do that. I figured out that I've probably got to work a lot harder than then other people. It doesn't come as naturally. So it just helped me and put me down the right path.
“I think I've always been pretty strong mentally, so I didn't have any issues there,” he continued. “People always have opinions and will always speak but that doesn't mean it's always right. The only thing I could do is just focus on the work that I had to do and I seem to have reaped the benefits in the last few games that we had played.”
South Africa's performance has been lukewarm and oscillating between highs and lows. In the home season, they couldn't match the quality of England and lost the Test series by 3-1 and squared the One-Day series while Proteas maintained an upper-hand in the three-match Twenty20 battle by 2-1.
Furthermore, South Africa lost T20 series against Australia by 2-1 but made a spirited comeback by routing the visitors by 3-0 in the ODIs.
“The team did very well in the end, there were a lot of steps in the right direction,” Ngidi added. “Obviously, there’s still a lot of work to be done but it was very good to see those wins… I just think you can see the other teams have had these teams for a very long time and we've got probably another four or five new guys that have come into the team now.
“For us it's obviously a different phase but it's moving in the right direction. It was good to see the wins that were happening but there's still a bit of work to do.”
Ngidi is glad to have the services of former South Africa dextrous swing bowler Charl Langeveldt. He credits his support instrumental in performing consistently in the domestic cricket competitions.
“Having Langeveldt back has been really good for me,” he explained. “He’s been very supportive and encourages the way I think. As a bowler, I feel really comfortable with executing my plans and I never fear that the bowling coach is not going to agree with my plan.
"He understands me and he’s been there before, he’s been in situations where you have the ball and you have to deviate from the game plan. He’s got a lot of knowledge and he himself was a very skilful bowler, he’s helped me a lot,” Ngidi concluded.