Thando Ntini ready to begin a career of his own

Makhaya Ntini's son joins him as he leads South Africa out onto the field for his 100th cap Getty Images

Thando Ntini doesn't shout. He is soft spoken and picks out his words carefully, constructing sentences like he is arranging delicate objects for display.

It's generally unusual for a 17-year old to take such care, but it is particularly unusual because the name Ntini is not usually associated with such serenity.

Makhaya, Thando's father, the holder of 390 Test wickets and hero to many, is always heard before he is seen. He made a career of being boisterous and bubbly, shouting the odds from miles away and laughing loudly, with his whole heart, no matter what the situation.

For years, Makhaya was the face of black African cricket in South Africa and so, the face of the majority of the population. He was also their voice and provided a soundtrack of consciousness against which Thando grew up. It's hardly a surprise that the first few words out of Thando's mouth when talking about his selection in the South African Under-19 World Cup squad is about the responsibility he carries.

"It's pretty cool to be able to say I am representing people from the whole country. There's a couple of hundred thousand kids that would want to be in my shoes at the moment. I'm playing for the kids back home that didn't have the chance to be where I am today and it's a responsibility I take quite seriously," he told ESPNcricinfo during the Boxing Day Test between South Africa and Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth.

Thanks to Makhaya's success, Thando was able to attend not one, but two prestigious schools. He started off at Selbourne College in the Eastern Cape at first before moving to Wynberg Boys in the Western Cape, where his cricket has flourished. But Thando knows he is privileged and that there are many children just like him who continue to struggle for recognition at township schools where they lack access and facilities to elite sport like cricket. The first people he wants to make proud at the Under-19 World Cup is them.

The second is his family. "It's the first Under-19 World Cup for an Ntini name and a massive achievement for me," he said.

Though Makhaya played for South Africa's Under-19 side, he did not play at a World Cup. Given the importance the age-group World Cup now has in shaping careers - Kagiso Rabada, Aiden Markram, Andile Phehlukwayo and Lungi Ngidi are just some examples of recently capped internationals whose careers took off from the tournament - Thando sees it as an important step on his journey to professional cricket. "It's been a four-year journey to get here," he said. "I went to all the national camps, all the weeks from Under-13 all the way to Under-19 and the World Cup is my first big international tournament. I am very excited."

But Thando is not just black African and an Ntini, he is also a cricketer, an allrounder, and at 17, one of the youngest members of South Africa's Under-19 squad. Though his numbers are not outstanding at this stage, he has plenty of promise. He bowls quickly and can bat as high as No.5 and considers himself a genuine two-in-one cricketer.

He was one of the few members of the XI who put in a respectable performance in the warm-up match against India. Thando claimed 2 for 47 in eight overs even as India piled on 332 for 8.

South Africa lost the match by 189 runs, which does not bode well for them as they are under pressure to perform well. Since winning the event in 2014, the Under-19 side has suffered a severe dip in performances, perhaps both as a result of not finding a group as strong as the one of four years ago and getting rid of Ray Jennings, who was particularly good at moulding young players. They finished in 11th place at the 2016 tournament and have been told by the CSA suits that a repeat of that will be considered unacceptable. CSA Acting CEO Thabang Moroe said nothing less than a semi-final will be tolerated.

That means "a lot of pressure," on Thando and his team-mates but he is taking it in his stride as much as he can. "A special occasion calls for special thinking but I think we are ready," Thando said on arrival in New Zealand, in an even, considered tone. If he is panicking, it's not showing, and he is certainly not showboating.

The South African cricket fraternity remembers Thando as a fairly shy young boy, who grew up playing in hotel corridors. The public may remember him as the 11-year old who walked sullenly down the staircase at SuperSport Park in December 2009, as he accompanied his father, who was about to receive his 100th Test cap. Now, Thando is all grown up and ready to begin a career of his own. He is no Makhaya, and best we all remember that.