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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 March, 2003, 06:38 GMT
Black Thunder strikes back
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport in Port Elizabeth

Mfuneko Ngam
Mfuneko Ngam has endured an injury nightmare
Mfuneko Ngam, a young South African bowler who has had an outrageous amount of bad luck, is finally convinced his appalling injury record is in the past.

In fact, so confident is he in his own ability to get match-fit fast he is even talking of flying out to England with the senior squad in a few months' time.

The 24-year-old is fully fit now, but missed all but a handful of games at the start of the season for Eastern Province.

The 2002/3 term was intended to be the fast bowler's big comeback season after he was specifically given extra time to recover from a fourth stress fracture, plus ligament damage to his bowling shoulder.

But in October, with the season only just beginning, he broke his foot.

This was the young man who had burst onto the scene in late 2000 when his ability to move the ball at searing pace earned him 11 wickets in his first three Tests.

Mfuneko Ngam profile
Born: 19/1/1979
Tests: Three
Wickets: 11
Average: 17.18
Best haul: 3-26

Since then the man dubbed "Black Thunder" has mainly been left frustrated by all the injuries.

But while he waits for a new pair of custom-made boots to arrive from London, from the same manufacturer who made Allan Donald's footwear no less, Ngam is pretty optimistic about life.

"I think I may be in the tour to England because now I am 100% fit," he told BBC Sport's website.

"I know I only played the first three or four games this season then I got the injury. And although I haven't bowled again yet, I will be in the next few days as soon as the boots arrive.

"Ever since I started out in cricket I've had a lot of bad luck. It has come to an end now. Now it will all depend on how I perform.

"If I do well, I would love to take the new ball for South Africa with Makhaya Ntini."

Ngam says his action has never been remodelled despite the injuries.

I will surprise almost everyone
Mfuneko Ngam is confident he will shine on his return

"I am concentrating on controlling the pace," he explains. "As soon as I am able to bowl again I am going to look to get my rhythm right.

"But I don't want my only weapon to be pace, so I am working on seam, making sure the seam is upright when I release it the ball."

He also reckons his batting has come on massively, helped by regular net sessions while he has been unable to bowl.

"The batting is good," he says. "I will surprise almost everyone. As soon as I get the chance I will show you I have been doing things on my own and with my coaches like Kepler Wessels."

South African chief of selectors Omar Henry said it was not impossible for Ngam to make the England tour.

"The medical committee of the United Cricket Board will keep us informed of his progress," he said.

"At the moment all we know is he is making very good progress and anything is possible."




SEE ALSO
Ngam suffers new setback
04 Oct 02 |  Cricket
Ngam on way back
26 Sep 02 |  Cricket
Thunder rumbles again
11 Apr 02 |  Australia v South Africa


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