Hero Worship Hero WorshipRSS FeedFeeds
Cricketers on their idols

Makhaya Ntini on Brian McMillan

The incredible hulk

A mentor who you could model your game - and life - on

Firdose Moonda

November 20, 2009

Text size: A | A

India v South Africa , 3rd Test match, Kanpur, 8 - 12 December 1996
The man who always wanted to be on the winning side Carl Fourie / © Action Photographics
Related Links
Players/Officials: Brian McMillan | Makhaya Ntini
Teams: South Africa

I remember wondering how such a heavy-set man could have the power and destruction of an elephant and the accuracy of an eagle swooping down on its prey all at the same time.

I was only a schoolboy when I watched this hulk bowling for the first time. I remember how he banged every delivery in, each ball coming in harder than the previous one, and how he was always attacking the batsmen, not letting them settle down or relax at the crease. The more I watched him, his action, his technique and his skill, the more I realised I wanted to be like Brian McMillan.

When I was still playing cricket at school and was on the fringes of the Border set-up, I used to watch Brian whenever Western Province came to play in East London. At first I just used to sit and watch him, but as I became more involved in the set-up I was able to interact with him when we played against each other.

Even though I modelled my action on Malcolm Marshall, I modelled my approach to the game and to many different aspects of life on Brian.

I used to notice how he never showed signs of being tired and how seriously he took his fitness, even though he was such a big-built man. He had a jovial manner; he was always smiling, but at the same time he made sure his team-mates and the opposition knew that he wanted to be part of the winning side. Those were character traits that I wanted to adopt, and I think I have over the years.

After making my debut against Sri Lanka, I was selected for the tour to England in 1998. I was one of the youngest members of the team, and I had to choose a mentor for the tour. I immediately selected Brian. That meant we had to train together and work on different strategies and techniques, and it was during that time that I learnt a lot from him, about things both on and off the field.

I still speak to Brian for advice regularly. The most important lessons I have learnt from him are the things outside of cricket. We both believe in training hard for ourselves but also in playing a positive role in the team. We also have a good cricket-life balance, which is essential when you are professional sportsman.

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

RSS Feeds: Firdose Moonda

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Email Feedback Print
Firdose MoondaClose

    'Batsmen were more concerned with facing Warne than playing him'

My XI: Erapalli Prasanna on Shane Warne's aggression

    Why crowd support matters

Rob Steen: A factor in improved away records in recent years, particularly in ODIs, is the presence of fans from the diaspora cheering for visiting teams

    'I was the mad scientist who threw ideas at the side'

Former New Zealand coach John Bracewell talks man management, county v country, and the evolution of the game

    Rossouw's agony, and most stumpings in international cricket

Ask Steven: Also, the highest scores by wicketkeepers, and the most ODI fifties without a hundred

Why didn't anyone pick Bruce Martin?

Beige Brigade: The boys discuss Cook and Swann, and Richie Benaud's lounge. Plus, the Mystery Man song

News | Features Last 7 days

England need disruptive strategy to counter spin

Alastair Cook needs an out-of-the-box plan that veers India from the set pieces. One of those plans could be an early Powerplay

Test cricket's young Fab Four

Kohli, Root, Smith and Williamson will take turns as the No. 1 Test batsman. So far each has shown only one technical weakness

Dhoni doesn't heed his own warning

Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff

Dhoni's evolved wicketkeeping

Plays of the day from the 4th ODI between England and India at Edgbaston

England World Cup plans in ruins

England's World Cup plans are in ruins after another trouncing from India at Edgbaston and Alastair Cook's presence in the side is impossible to justify

News | Features Last 7 days