Ntini hangs up his bat

2010-11-02 13:05

JOHANNESBURG – South African fast bowling great Makhaya Ntini announced today his retirement from all forms of international cricket.

“It’s been a happy journey, but all things come to an end,” said Ntini, who was the first and most successful African player to represent South Africa.

He had a brilliant career, finishing 390 Test wickets ­– the 11th highest of all time, and second highest by a South African.

He holds the South African records for the best bowling figures in Test cricket (a match return of 13/132 versus the West Indies at Trinidad in 2005), in ODI cricket (6/23 against Australia at Sahara Park Newlands in 2006) and of the most 10-wicket hauls in Tests (four, a mark he shares with Dale Steyn).

He is also the only South African bowler to take 10 wickets in a Test match at the mecca of cricket, the famous Lord’s ground in London.

Ntini said he would continue to play for his franchise, the Warriors, and also announced that he would open a cricket academy in East London.

An emotional Ntini said he had never dreamt that he would achieve the distinction of playing in 100 Test matches.

“Being the first black player to represent South Africa, I had to work very hard,” he said.

“But, the captains I played under – the late Hansie Cronje, Shaun Pollock and Graeme Smith – supported me 150 percent. They made me realise it was not about colour, but about what I could do,” he said.

Ntini thanked Cricket South Africa (CSA) for its support when he was convicted of rape in 2000. He was later acquitted on appeal.

“That was the hardest time of my life, but people like the late Khaya Majola and Dr Ali Bacher supported me and believed in me,” he said.

The former Protea said the name Makhaya should not just be remembered as a name, but as symbolic of energy, dedication, pride and ubuntu.

“That is how I would like people to remember me,” he said.

He expressed concern that talented players were identified in the rural areas, but later slipped through the cracks.

“That is what I am planning to do with my academy ­– see that they don’t disappear after six months,” he said.

CSA chief executive Gerald Majola paid tribute to Ntini, and said he would make a last appearance in the green and gold in the Standard Bank Pro20 match against India at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on January 9.

“We can’t let a great player like Makhaya say goodbye off the field,” he said.

“So, we have told the selectors to include him in that match and give his fans an opportunity to bid him farewell.”

CSA President Dr Mtuthuzeli Nyoka praised Ntini for succeeding against “unspeakable odds” and described him as a man of destiny.

“We salute you as a cricketer, as an African, and as a man,” said Nyoka.

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