Ntini ‘to quit SA’
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Dropped for the third Test against England at Newlands here, Makhaya Ntini may be wasting no time in moving on from his distinguished, 101-cap Test career for South Africa.
Former England batsman and now cricket scribe Steve James revealed in London’s Sunday Telegraph that the veteran fast bowler had already signed a pre-contract with Middlesex, with a view to joining the county for the 2010 season on a Kolpak deal.
He said an announcement of Ntini’s impending retirement from the international arena was possible as early as the end of the Newlands Test.
Cricket South Africa media officer Michael Owen-Smith told Sport24 on Sunday they had no knowledge of any new plans by Ntini, who is contracted to them until the end of April.
But the 32-year-old extending his career in fresh pastures seems a reasonably obvious and shrewd move, after his mounting impotence as an international strike factor was painfully evident in the first two Tests at Centurion and Kingsmead respectively – he had figures of two for 223 over those matches.
Friedel de Wet was predictably preferred for the third Test, earning a second cap after his success in the opening Test at SuperSport Park.
Ntini, once a cattle-herder who hails from a small Eastern Cape village, made his poignant debut for South Africa in 1997/98, for a one-day international against New Zealand in Perth, and until fairly recently had served the Proteas with great aplomb.
Especially renowned for his stamina and aggression before the ravages of ageing and workload began to take a visible toll, he boasts 390 Test scalps at 28.82 and 266 wickets from 173 ODIs at 24.65.
If he does join Middlesex, he will play much of his cricket at the symbolic “home of cricket”, Lord’s, where he achieved a notable landmark of 10 wickets and a place on the coveted honours board in a 2003 Test triumph over England.