SA vs IND 2018: When Lungi Ngidi almost chose rugby over cricket

Kohli was dismissed by Ngidi in the second innings.

Ngidi won the Man of the Match in his debut Test. (Getty)

Lungi Ngidi had a dream debut in his Test career as his key wicket of Virat Kohli in the second innings opened the floodgates for South Africa to make serious inroads into the Indian batting line up. 

He ended with six wickets to win the Man of the Match in his very first Test for South Africa. However, his story of becoming a cricketer is a real interesting one. 

As a student, Ngidi was fascinated with history, said Carlisle. So much so that he took political science at Pretoria University. In cricket, Ngidi’s has been a fast-tracked case. He excelled in swimming, rugby and cricket and could have easily pursued any as a career. But cricket it was for Ngidi, who had joined Hilton — who has on roles current South Africa batting coach Dale Benkenstein as first team coach — on a full sports scholarship.

“The guys were cheering him on TV. There was quite a special atmosphere at school today,” Sean Carlisle, Hilton’s first cricket team XI coach and a history teacher, said. “He’s humble, feet on the ground and we are extremely proud of the human being he has become,” said Carlisle about Ngidi who grew up about an hour and a half from Hilton in Kwazulu-Natal. “That Ngidi was elected head boy of his boarding house Newnham showed how popular he was among boys,” added Carlisle.

“Most of us knew he had the ability to do it but it happened a lot quicker than we had thought. It has been remarkable. When I was coaching the first team I had former Zimbabwe all-rounder Neil Johnson — coaching in England now — with me. Ngidi then came to us as a 13-14 year old. Already at that age, he showed lots of talent, a natural athlete,” he said.

“He arrived at his first practice and wanted to be a batsman but did not have any cricket kit so he decided to try his hand at bowling instead,” concluded Carlisle.

By Anshuman Roy - 19 Jan, 2018

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