December 6, 2009

South African cricket

Ntini flies the flag for the Rainbow Nation

Nishi Narayanan
A jubilant Makhaya Ntini after dismissing Ricky Ponting, South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 1st day, February 26, 2009
 © Getty Images


Makhaya Ntini, the first ethnic black cricketer to play for South Africa, is set to play his 100th Test next week and today the team is genuinely living up to South Africa's aspirational slogan, 'the Rainbow Nation'. Of course, transformation would have happened with or without Ntini. The perpetuation of an all-white cricket team was never an option. But when the South African authorities chose Ntini as their trailblazer, they could never have guessed how far he would go, Simon Briggs writes in the Sunday Telegraph.

The journey started with a scholarship to the all-white enclave of Dale College, a sporting mecca in an exclusive part of the Eastern Cape, when Ntini was 14. By the time he left, he spoke serviceable English, and his frenzied, Malcolm Marshall-esque action had been honed into something repeatable by the school's coaching team ... Even now, you can still see traces of his home-grown method in the way he jumps out wide of the crease – a legacy of the spiked boots that used to disagree with King William's Town's concrete pitches. Yet this quirk has worked to his advantage, setting batsmen a different geometrical conundrum to the one they face every day.

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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