Justin Lee Ontong
January 04, 1980, Paarl, Cape Province
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Justin Ontong started off as a batsman, but then also added offbreaks, quicker balls and wrong'uns to make himself a more useful cricketer. Adept in any position in the batting order, Ontong is a fighting cricketer who can play pace and spin, a committed fielder and a handy spin bowler.
Four years after making his first-class debut, Ontong got an opportunity to make his Test debut, in Sydney in January 2002, but the occasion was mired in controversy. Ontong was selected ahead of Jacques Rudolph for political reasons. It emerged that Percy Sonn, then the South Africa board president, had overruled the selectors and insisted on the inclusion of Ontong, a Cape Coloured, ahead of Rudolph, a white player. Rudolph and Ontong were room-mates at the time and have remained friends despite the circumstances of the tour.
Scores of nine and 32 were all that Ontong managed in that match and it would be nearly three years before he earned another opportunity in Tests. He eventually returned to the squad for the trip to India in November 2004. However, the return was short-lived as he again failed to establish himself in a strong batting order and he had to wait until early 2008 for another recall when he was named to face West Indies. A strong 2008 domestic season, during which he was the Cobras' leading run-scorer, saw Ontong included for the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 in India in 2009 but he did not play a single game.
Ontong returned to the domestic circuit and the fruits of maturity showed. In two first-class seasons in 2010-11 and 2011-12, he averaged over 50 in first-class cricket and in the latter season, over 70 in List A. He became a regular fixture in the South Africa A side and made a fourth return to national colours under the Gary Kirsten administration in January 2012.
Ontong was selected for the limited-overs legs of the tour of New Zealand and featured regularly in the twenty-over side since then. He played in the unofficial tri-series in Zimbabwe, where Bangladesh were also participants, and was used in various positions to firm up an experimental middle order. With South Africa's ODI side also searching for the perfect combination, Ontong was one of the players they decided to use in the series against England. He was named in South Africa's squad to play in the World T20 in Sri Lanka in September 2012.
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