South African cricket fans on Sunday said goodbye to one of the greatest sporting heroes the country has produced, Makhaya Ntini.
Ntini was born in Mdingi in the Eastern Cape and made his Test and ODI debut for the Proteas at the (Western Australian Cricket Association) WACA Ground, Perth, Australia in 1998. He also played in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.
He is an inspiration to thousands of children across the country and has an academy in the Eastern Cape.
With 390 dismissals, Ntini is South Africa’s second leading wicket taker of all time in Test cricket.
His sterling track record also boasts 18 five-wicket hauls and four match returns of 10 wickets or more.
His best performance came on 12 April 2005, when Ntini took 13 wickets for 132 runs against the West Indies at Port of Spain. This remains the most wickets taken by a South African cricketer in a Test match.
An emotional Ntini thanked all his fans for their support at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, saying “it has been a wonderful 12 years.”
Durban fan Jesse Fry told BuaNews she believed Ntini was the lynchpin of the South African bowling attack and “someone who the various captains, players and fans could always rely upon to give his all.”
Fry was sad to see Ntini go. “I seem to remember him always being quite dangerous against the Aussies and his figures tend to back that up, 15 matches, 58 wickets at just under 35 is quite an achievement. I have a lot of respect for him as a bowler.”
Phoenix resident Zama ‘Mazet’ Mkhwanazi felt Ntini was a true hero. “I know that he has a free cricket school in Eastern Cape for teenagers, which is amazing,” he said.
Sport fanatic Ven Govender said: “Ntini has brought fun and passion to cricket in South Africa. To me, he’s always been the party animal of the team … he celebrates every wicket and every win like it’s his first, which shows me how passionate he is about the game.”
She added that Ntini has also played an important role in the future of cricketers of colour “by being the first black cricketer to be so successful and showing that cricket is not just a white man’s game anymore.”
“Ntini to me is a legend in South African cricket,” Govender said.
Hieshaam Leetz, another South African cricket fan, thought Ntini played an important role in the sport. “He gave hope to underprivileged kids from the townships – the hope of representing their country as a ‘black cricketer’ but I prefer the words ‘Team SA’,” said Leetz.
“I hope he takes up a coaching role as to inspire even more blacks, Indians and coloureds to come through the ranks and represent our beautiful country,” he added.
His inspirational nature has also impacted on newly matriculated Dash Pillay. “Makhaya has inspired and given a sense of belief too many underprivileged kids, especially the youngsters, showing them they can make the national side.”
Pillay added that his sense of humour and humble approach to the game has brought about a change concerning racial issues in South African sport at a faster pace.
“He has played a vital role in being a front line bowler. My greatest memory of him has been his involvement in the greatest ODI match, which is the 438 game where he scored a single to level the game. Boucher then steered the Proteas to victory with a boundary. Makhaya has helped Cricket South Africa gain respect internationally.”
The 438 game, voted the best ODI, was played between Australia and South Africa in the 2005/6 season. South Africa ended up winning the series after that incredible match. – Kemantha Govender, BuaNews
Fans and players alike will miss Makhaya’s constant optimism and good natured ‘heckling’ of fellow players and opposition.
- One of the few bowlers who have taken 300 or more wickets in Test cricket: Wasim Akram, Curtly Ambrose, Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Allan Donald, Lance Gibbs, Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Anil Kumble, Brett Lee, Dennis Lillee, Malcolm Marshall, Glenn McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan, Makhaya Ntini (390), Shaun Pollock, Harbhajan Singh, Fred Trueman, Chaminda Vaas, Daniel Vettori, Courtney Walsh, Shane Warne, Bob Willis, Waqar Younis.
- Played 101 Tests comprising 190 innings, bowled 20 834 balls, conceded 1 242 runs and took 390 wickets.
- Played 173 One Day International games, bowled 8 687 balls, conceded 6 559 runs and took 266 wickets
- Played 51 Twenty over games, bowled 1086 balls, conceded 1 432 runs and took 43 wickets.
- Played 768 International Matches (Tests, ODI’s, T20I’s, First-class, List A and Twenty20), bowled 77 758 balls, conceded 47 193 runs and took 1 714 wickets.
- Career Average economy of 5.4
- The most wickets taken by a South African cricketer in a Test match: 13 wickets for 132 runs against the West Indies at Port of Spain on 12 April 2005.
Ntini came from humble beginnings where he tended cattle in his home village of Mdingi in the Eastern Cape. It was there that his talent was discovered and he was sent to Dale College in King William’s Town where he would develop his game. His action was intentionally modelled on West Indian great Malcolm Marshall. After a brief spell with Border, his break came courtesy of an injury to Roger Telemachus and Ntini was included in the South African squad to tour Australia late in 1997.
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