Johannesburg – Dean Elgar hopes that Lungi Ngidi’s recent outing for his province, the Multiply Titans, will stand him in good stead for the series against Australia, despite Ngidi looking far from his best.
The 26-year-old fast bowler got through 22 overs of work across two innings at the Wanderers, 17 of which were delivered in the first innings, in the Titans’ 10-wicket victory over their provincial neighbours the DP World Lions.
Ngidi, who took one wicket in the match, looked very rusty in the first innings, bowling his overs across five different spells in which he struggled with his consistency in terms of line and length.
“He’s had a long lay-off from the (T20) World Cup,” said Elgar, who spent much of the time watching Ngidi bowl from his fielding position at first slip. “He is not where he should be ahead of a big series, but we’ve got time on our hands. He is aware of that and if he’s not, I’ll make him aware.”
Ngidi, who has taken 49 wickets in his 15 Tests, is a likely starter for the Proteas in their Test series with Australia that starts in just under three weeks.
Ngidi played in four of the Proteas’ five group matches at the T20 World Cup including the embarrassing defeat to the Netherlands that sealed their fate in that tournament. Ngidi went wicketless in that encounter at the Adelaide Oval, and then had a few weeks off as was the case for most of the players that featured in that tournament for South Africa.
“He’s a professional guy, he knows where he’s at, at the moment and he’ll be working hard. I’m pretty confident that Lungi will bounce back, you can see he’s not played a lot of cricket of late, especially the longer format which is quite demanding. Time in the legs is something that you can’t replace,” said Elgar.
The Proteas captain was also encouraged by what he saw from Gerald Coetzee, who was called into the squad for the Australian series. Although the 22-year-old fast bowler’s stats in this season’s Four-Day series don’t make for encouraging reading, Elgar believes that time spent with the Proteas may help Coetzee’s development.
Coetzee has taken five wickets in three matches for the Knights, leaving his average at a lofty 56.00. He’s been part of an attack that was smashed for 292 by Heinrich Klaasen two weeks ago and then copped the unbeaten 304 from Tony de Zorzi at Newlands in the last round.
“Gerald is a tearaway … he ran into a few Proteas batters who were in form,” Elgar said of his encounter with Coetzee at SuperSport Park. Elgar also made a hundred in that match. “He’s exciting, we are looking for guys with out and out pace. He’s basically a like-for-like for Anna (Nortje). Going to Australia you need skill and speed, he’s got the speed, and his game plan will be pretty direct.”
The Proteas depart for Australia on Thursday. They will play a warm-up match in Brisbane ahead of the first Test at the Gabba which starts on December 17.