15 years on from Proteas' famous '438': 'Makhaya Ntini had everything under control'

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  • It's the 15-year anniversary of the legendary '438-game' between the Proteas and Australia and the thrilling contest still highlights how important the small moments were to the outcome.
  • Makhaya Ntini's single to hand Mark Boucher the strike to win the game was one of them and then national bowling coach, Vinnie Barnes, regaled events neatly.
  • Barnes called it one of the best matches he was involved in, but admitted SA's bowling performance gave him some chills down the spine.

Of all the small moments that defined the Proteas' momentous victory over Australia in the famous '438-game' at the Wanderers in 2006, Makhaya Ntini's match-winning contribution continues to stand out ... 15 years on.

Ironically, the legendary quick did so with the bat, rather than the ball.

Requiring two runs from three deliveries to not only clinch a thrilling five-match series but also break the record for the highest ODI total in history at the time, South Africa were down to their final batting pair.

Vinnie Barnes, then the Proteas' bowling coach, encapsulates the simple equation perfectly.


"Nine down, in walked Makhaya Ntini to face one of the most fearsome bowlers in the Aussie attack, Brett Lee," he reminisced in a social media post written on Friday.

"We had gotten this close and needed Makhaya to get a single or the winning runs."

With a composed Mark Boucher on 46 at the other end, just getting off strike was probably the wisest option.

" 'Watch the yorker Makhaya, get Boucher on strike.'  I can imagine all the advice Makkie got before he walked out to bat," Barnes wrote.

"He will tell you that he had everything under control and calmly guided Brett Lee’s thunderbolt down to third man."

Boucher hit the next ball for four and pandemonium broke out.

On the back of an outrageous, 111-ball 175 from Herschelle Gibbs and skipper Graeme Smith's 90 off 55 deliveries, the Proteas had prevailed.

Barnes sat in the same seat for the whole 100 overs, at times bewildered by what was going on.

It had truly been a proverbial rollercoaster ride.

"It was also the most memorable one-day match I was involved in during my time with the Proteas," Barnes continued.

"Although it was a day to remember, I had mixed feelings. I was absolutely over the moon with the result, but as the Proteas bowling coach, my bowlers had been battered for 434 runs.

"By the end of the first innings, I sat in disbelief not knowing what had just happened. Was I dreaming? Was this a nightmare? My bowlers had conceded 434. If no-balls were free hits back then, they would probably have gotten close to 500. We bowled 10 no-balls."

Ntini himself had gone for 80 runs in just nine overs.

Stunned into silence initially, the dressing room lightened up once Jacques Kallis came and quipped: "Guys, I think we've done a good job, the bowlers have done well. They're 15 runs short."

It proved to be a perfect tonic.

"Once everything calmed down, we had to prepare to chase a world record total. The key was not to focus on the outcome, but rather on the processes that would eventually get us there.

"What we did have was a batting line-up that could chase such a mammoth total. The rest is history," Barnes wrote.  

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