December 18, 2009

England in South Africa 2009-10

Mandela's tribute to Ntini

Andrew McGlashan

Tributes continue to pour in for Makhaya Ntini during his 100th Test, but the one he received on the third morning at Centurion Park probably trumps them all, as Nelson Mandela, the former South Africa president, sent him a personal letter.

“Hearty congratulations as you play your one hundredth cricket Test,” the letter began. “What you have achieved goes beyond the number of matches you played; you have demonstrated, especially to the youth of our country, that everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do. We are proud of you!”

Ntini received the note shortly before he went out to begin play and said: “I don’t want to get too emotional as I go out to play.”

It certainly didn’t appear to affect him, as in his third over of the morning he extracted Andrew Strauss with a ball that scooted low and took out the off stump. The wicket meant everyone in the crowd was able to go and claim their free beer which was promised by a sponsor whenever Ntini opened his account.

Yesterday, Ntini led South Africa onto the field with his son and was watched on by his family. However, he then had Alastair Cook dropped in the first over when AB de Villiers spilled a catch at third slip, but it was only going to be a matter of time before he got himself in the wickets.

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Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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