Makhaya Ntini August 1, 2010

Boot camp

Bullying batsmen, going to an all-white college, and the case for a higher batting positions

First pair of cricket boots
They were given to me by Greg Hayes [Border cricket development officer] when I was 15. Before that I had only ever bowled in sneakers. When I put my new boots on, they were so uncomfortable that I couldn't enjoy them at all, but after a while I got used to it and started to understand the advantages, such as the balance they gave me when I bowled.

First day in college
My first day at Dale College [prestigious cricketing school in East London] was very awkward. I couldn't speak English properly, and I wasn't sure what to say because I was scared it would be the wrong thing. Some of the kids were scared of me and some tried to bully me, but I made sure they understood that just because it was a mostly white school and I was black, it didn't mean I could be pushed around.

First five-for
It was when I was about 14 years old, playing a social game. The statistics of those matches were never recorded, but I remember it well because it was something I used to brag about to other kids.

First batsman to go after me
The first batsman to take me apart was when I went on a school tour to Australia. I don't remember who it was, but I know that I didn't mind too much if he hit me all over the park because I knew when I was batting and he was bowling, I would do the same thing.

First memorable batting experience
The first time I batted higher up the order was also on that Australian schoolboy tour. I batted at No. 4 and scored a hundred. I always used to tell Graeme Smith about that innings of mine, to try and persuade him to put me higher up the order.

As told to Firdose Moonda, a freelance writer based in Johannesburg