- In a startling revelation, former Proteas fast bowler Makhaya Ntini has revealed that he often felt lonely throughout his international career.
- In an interview with the SABC, Ntini recalled an incident where he would run instead of using the team bus to commute between hotels and stadiums as his team-mates would often avoid sitting with him.
- Ntini added that he often witnessed team-mates making social plans and felt excluded.
As South African cricket grapples with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, former Proteas fast bowler Makhaya Ntini has revealed that he often felt lonely throughout his international career.
The movement has gained traction in South Africa and tensions boiled over in the last week after fast bowler Lungi Ngidi said he would take the matter into Proteas the dressing room.
Ngidi's views led to criticism on social media by former South African cricketers Rudi Steyn, Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar, who argued that "all lives matter".
Ntini, who made his Test debut in 1998, was the first black African cricketer to play for South Africa.
On Friday, Ntini appeared on the SABC's Morning Live and detailed how he had avoided travelling on the Proteas team bus to overcome the loneliness he felt in the dressing room.
Ntini, who was known as a charismatic character on and off the field, said there were many occasions where he witnessed team-mates making plans to socialise but he would be excluded.
"I was forever lonely. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of loneliness, is to not have someone knocking on your door and say, let's go for dinner. That's loneliness," the former Proteas fast bowler told the SABC.
"You'd watch friends calling each other and then having plans right in front of you and then you'd be skipped.
"When you walk into a breakfast room - and you're the first one there - you'd see the next person that walks in, he will never come to sit next to you. It's that loneliness ... we're playing in the same team, practice at the same time, bowl to them, wear the same clothes and sing the same national anthem."
Ntini then described how he would run between stadiums and hotels - where the Proteas were based - to avoid using the team bus as team-mates would avoid sitting close to him.
"It's those things that I had to find a way to overcome them. I found a way and that became one of the weapons of my life whereby I would go to the driver of the bus early morning and I would give him my bag and then I'll say to him, I'll meet you at the ground. I then put on my running shoes and ran to the cricket ground, and then the same thing on my way back," he said.
"People never understood why I was doing that and I would never say it to them, this is why I'm doing this... to avoid A,B,C...
"I'm running away from that loneliness (from driving to and fro the hotel). You could see if I'm sitting at the back and the rest of them in the front..."
Ntini went on to play 101 Tests, 173 ODIs and 10 T20s for the Proteas between 1998 and 2011.
The 46-year-old is one of the 30 former Proteas, who has expressed their support for both Ngidi and the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Compiled by Lynn Butler