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At the home of cricket, a young South African makes a statement
October 4, 2009
London, 3 August 2003
Every touring team that visits Lord's is moved and inspired by the honours board in the pavilion, but the South Africans of 2003 were a little different. It is probably fair to say they were fixated by it. The desire to put their names on it was no dreamy ambition; it was a driving, relentless obsession.
By the time the Test match finished in South Africa's favour on the fourth day, three of them had done it. The captain, Graeme Smith, scored 259. The senior pro, Gary Kirsten, shed a tear or two after his 108 on what he believed would be his last tour before retirement.
But Makhaya Ntini beat both of them to it by taking 5 for 75 on the first day as England were bundled out for a paltry 173. He repeated the dose in the second innings with 5 for 145 to become the first South African to take 10 wickets at the home of cricket.
In a moment of the purest, most poignant theatre, he lowered himself to his knees and kissed the pitch. "There was a lot of emotion," he said afterwards. "Relief, enjoyment and a lot of pride. All I could think about was the fact that the name 'Ntini' would forever sit in the place they call the home of cricket. I thought of my children seeing their name on the wall one day, and then I thought of all the young black boys who would know that anything is possible. But I was just glad to put a South African name up there because I wanted every South African to share my pride."
Neil Manthorp is a South African broadcaster and journalist, and head of the MWP Sport agencyFeeds: Neil Manthorp
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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