South Africa news November 3, 2010

Ntini was a 'great servant' - McMillan

Brian McMillan, the former South Africa allrounder, has hailed his ex team-mate Makhaya Ntini as a "great servant to the game" after the fast bowler announced his international retirement. McMillan was Ntini's mentor during the 1998 tour to England when Ntini was playing in just his third series, and the two formed a strong bond.

For McMillan it was Ntini's fitness levels that stood out, a trait the fast bowler said he modelled on McMillan. Ntini became well known as the work horse of the South African attack, which he credited the allrounder for teaching him. "He had a lot of dedication which not all the guys have now," McMillan told ESPNcricinfo. "Whenever you would throw him the ball, he would bowl. In some ways he was a lot like Shaun Pollock, in that he got through a lot of overs."

The connection between the two started from an early stage. "He was still very much a junior and one of the first development players in our side," McMillan said. "He used to babysit my son Joshua on the sidelines, and Joshua is 17 now. It is things like that which make Makhaya not just special to me but also to my family."

However, there is still one bone of contention as far as McMillan is concerned. "There's one thing I will have to talk to him about. He promised me he would invite me to his wedding and he didn't," he joked.

McMillan believed that Ntini had made his own decision about quitting the international game and that it was not for him or anyone else to judge whether he had retired at the right time. "He must've known it was time."

Meanwhile, the current Test and one-day captain, Graeme Smith, gave his own tribute to Ntini after the third one-day international against Pakistan in Dubai which Smith missed due to injury. "Makhaya epitomised what the Proteas stood for and has been a great servant to the game both on and off the field," said Smith. "I am most grateful to have been part of his career and successes and wish him all of the best with his life after international cricket."

"He brought so much energy and laughter to the team, not forgetting that he is one of the fittest players I know, and as a captain it was always a pleasure to be able to call on him. I am so proud of his achievements, his records speak for themselves, and he leaves behind a lasting legacy for many to aspire to.

"He has been a pioneer for youngsters out there and has represented every South African while he has donned the Protea jersey."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent