Fast bowler hopes for more opportunities with seamer-friendly ball after five-wicket haul
Lungi Ngidi hopes to have more possibility to bowl with the Dukes ball after it helped him earn his second Test five-for in St Lucia. Ngidi, who took 6 for 39 against India on debut in January 2018, rated the Dukes ball as more seamer-friendly than the Kookaburra, used in South Africa, or India’s SG, on account of the way it behaves.
“I prefer the Dukes ball. It stays harder and moves around much more,” Ngidi said after the first day’s play. “The Kookaburra ball has a tendency to receive a bit soft and once it gets soft, it doesn’t actually swing and you try to look for reverse swing. The SG gets scuffed up actually quick and it is a actually tough ball to care for. But the Dukes ball is actually a test of skill. Once you’ll be able to get the wrist position correct and hone in on your area, you’ll be able to be very successful with this ball. Having bowled with it now, I am hoping I bowl with it for plenty of, many years.”
Ngidi had never used the Dukes ball in a Test match before, having not played any Tests in England or in the Caribbean before this tour. He did have access to it when practising in South Africa and said the training group used to be “trying everything to regulate that ball,” and showed off the result of their persistence within two sessions on the first day.
South Africa dismissed West Indies for 97, for their second sub-100 complete since 2004, through a combination of aggression and discipline that Ngidi explained could be difficult to receive correct in beneficial conditions. “You’ll get carried absent, particularly when it’s nipping around and swinging like that,” he said.
In the morning session, South Africa were anything but over-excited by conditions. While Kagiso Rabada and Ngidi kept the brakes on West Indies, Anrich Nortje tore through the top order. “My role definition has been very lucid – it’s been to ensure I retain one end quiet. We do have some actually quick bowlers and a large number of batsmen were struggling with them so for me to give them nothing used to be a part of the plan,” Ngidi said.
His morning’s work used to be seven overs for 10 runs and he returned after lunch to take five wickets for nine runs, having changed ends in between whiles. “I felt more comfortable from the other end and my rhythm clicked,” he said. “It’s been a work in progress. I had to work very tough in the gym, on fitness, and a very powerful object used to be the skill side of things and with the ability to swing the ball absent from batters.”
Ngidi celebrated his second five-for with an emotional gesture to the heavens and then settled in to watch West Indies’ enjoy some, albeit not the same, success. Teenage debutant Jayden Seales, playing in just his second first-class match, took 3 for 34 and Ngidi used to be especially impressed with his performance. “I used to be keeping a near eye on him. His seam presentation is what I tried to do when we were bowling,” Ngidi said. “He has got a great wrist at the back of the ball, a very clean action and it sort of feels like he can run in all day, so he’s a danger. It is a very exciting future for the West Indies with him in the line-up.”
South Africa will hope it is not too exciting, just yet. Their lead of 31 is still some way at the back of what Ngidi thinks could be match-winning, particularly on a surface that will continue to suit the quicks. “On this wicket you are never actually in. Possibly a lead of 150-200, we’re going to take that,” he said. “But it’s still moving around a bit so any lead we will get, we can take as bowlers.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent