Thando Ntini, son of former South Africa fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, has been picked up in the Mzansi Super League wild-card draw. Ntini, 19, was the youngest among the six wild-card picks, and was signed up by Paarl Rocks.
A seam-bowling allrounder, he was first selected for the South Africa Under-19 side in 2017, at the age of 16, and scored a senior provincial contract with Western Province last year. Ntini made his first-class debut in February, during the domestic 3-Day Cup, making "a good, steady start" and bowling with "decent pace" according to coach Paul Adams.
Having turned heads at Western Province, Ntini also cracked into the South Africa Emerging squad in June, picking up 5 for 46 in his first match against the Sri Lanka Emerging team and following that up with 4 for 76 in the drawn unofficial Test against the same opponents.
Ntini was part of Western Province's squad for the recent domestic T20 competition, fulfilling the criteria for the wild-card draw. He batted in the lower-middle order and opened the bowling.
"Thank you so much for this lovely opportunity, it's a dream come true," Ntini wrote in an Instagram post announcing his contract. "I would like to dedicate this special moment to my family, coaches, close friends and all the people at Western Province for making me the person and cricketer I am today. The journey only gets better from here. And a special mention to Siya Sibiya [South Africa Under-19 assistant coach] who has always believed and pushed me to be the better version of myself."
He will join a Paarl Rocks squad that is not short of seam-bowling quality, or experienced allrounders, which means he may have to wait for his chance in the tournament. Hardus Viljoen and Isuru Udana have also been signed up by Paarl, while Dwaine Pretorius, Sibonelo Makhanya, Ferisco Adams and Kerwin Mungroo in the team play similar roles to Ntini.
Ntini's Western Province team-mate Dane Paterson was another wild-card pick, signed by Jozi Stars. Allrounder Robbie Frylinck was signed up by Durban Heat, while legspinner Dyllan Matthews, who was part of the Easterns team that won the domestic T20 tournament, went to Nelson Mandela Bay Giants. Left-arm seamer Khwezi Gumede was signed by Cape Town Blitz, and wicketkeeper-batsman Donavon Ferreira scored a contract with Tshwane Spartans after making a splash during the recent Varsity Cup.
The wild-card draw marks the final leg of the player draft, rounding out the 16-member squads of the six MSL teams. The international and South African marquee players were announced in August, while the bulk of the squads were finalised at the player draft earlier in September. The second edition of the MSL will run from November 8 to December 16.