NOT many people knew of Lungi Ngidi before the start of last season, but once the Africa T20 Cup concluded, his name was propelled into the limelight.
The right-arm seamer was voted 2015 Player of the Tournament after helping Northerns win the inaugural title 12 months ago.
Now he is back with more expectation and more pressure on his shoulders as the defending champions kick-off their campaign this weekend.
But Ngidi, 20, is ready to embrace the challenge.
“I'm very excited!” he said. “A lot of preparation has gone into the season, so I'm looking forward to it.
“People will obviously expect to see the same sort of performances from me, and more as well.
“I’ve thought about that and we’ve worked on that with the coaches. But I feel confident in my preparations for the tournament.
“I don’t really think of the pressure of having to perform again, but I just want to go out there and perform for the team. If I can do that, then I'm sure the other accolades will follow.”
Durban-born Ngidi took six wickets in his four matches last year at an average of 12.50 and a splendid economy of five to the over.
He says the tournament is a real opportunity for young players like him and had some strong words of advice for those who have the chance to play in it.
“I’d say to them, take it very seriously,” he said. “When it started last year, I don’t think many people realised how important this tournament actually is.
“It’s televised, you’re playing for your province, there’s franchise players involved, so if you can stick out in all of that, then people notice. I would say it’s a big chance to move up the ranks.”
Northerns begin the defence of the title, when all the Pool B games will be played at the Recreation Ground in Oudtshoorn.
Their first match is against Kenya on Friday and they are also set to meet hosts South Western Districts and Northern Cape over the weekend.
Ngidi says they will be going all out to win the title again in 2016.
“Our mindset is that we’re not going there to really defend the title, but rather that we’re going there to win it,” he added. “That’s our approach at Northerns. We set high standards for ourselves and everyone should expect a challenge.”