Cricket

Makhaya Ntini chats to Sport24

2013-12-02 13:10
The ‘Mdingi Express’ catches YOUR questions. He discusses the slow rate of transformation in SA cricket, his love for Kaizer Chiefs and whether he dreams of coaching the Proteas…



Lunga Cleopas Msimang asked:
You grew up in rural Eastern Cape where the odds were against you in terms of being recognised, but you still made it. What kept you motivated?

Makhaya Ntini: When some of us get to the stage where we have it all, we tend to forget where we came from and how we got to that point of success. I always remind myself that money can never buy love or one’s roots. Material possessions can easily disappear. What kept me motivated during my career was that I always wanted to achieve more. 

Andy Maggazz asked: Well known in sporting circles as the best black cricketer of all time, what warranted the move to manage a rugby team?

Makhaya Ntini: What most people don’t realise is that I also played rugby at Dale College. Back then one of my team-mates was former Springbok Gcobani Bobo. I had a good time managing the Kaizer Chiefs Sevens rugby team - I’ve always been a big Amakhosi fan. The Chiefs family welcomed me with open arms and enjoyed the energy I brought to the team.

Justice Dabampe asked: Are you still involved in cricket? If so, do you dream of one day coaching the Proteas?

Makhaya Ntini: Yes, I’m actually playing Sunday league for Willows Cricket Club in East London. I play alongside youngsters and show them the way and advise what it takes to reach the top. Former players like myself teach them as much as we can and try our best to inspire them to reach provincial and national level. If the opportunity comes for me to coach my country in the future I will never say no, because I believe that I can bring about change. If a black coach like myself were to be appointed, for example, I feel it would instill a belief that it’s possible for more black cricketers to represent their country as one of their brothers is part of the coaching system. Geoffrey Toyana’s success at the Highveld Lions is a prime example.

Thembinkosi Gasa asked: Why are we not seeing more black players in the national team?

Makhaya Ntini: When I retired my wish was that black cricketers like Lonwabo Tsotsobe would carry the baton forward. I believe Tsotsobe, for example, deserves to be given more opportunities at national level. Regardless of colour, I would like to see fairness of selection. At the moment, African players find themselves in the position of fighting for one place in the side. After almost 20 years of democracy we should be in a position of equality. Having represented my country for more than 10 years, I find it hard to believe that we still struggle to find three or four players of colour who play consistently.

Raymond Silinga asked: What stands out as the proudest moment/s of your career?

Makhaya Ntini: One of my real highlights was when Dr Ali Bacher called me to say that I would be representing my country for the first time in a Test match. To be then handed the baggy green cap by one’s captain and realise that I was the first African to play for the Proteas was one of the true high points of my life. Taking 13 Test wickets against the West Indies in one match and my ten-wicket haul at Lords were also massive personal moments.

Reginald Ngcangca asked:  Should players like Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis still play one-dayers or rather focus on Test matches to allow young players the chance to develop?

Makhaya Ntini: For my liking, at this stage of his career he should focus on one format of the game. If he’s keen on breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record he should stick to Test matches, however if he wants to play in the 2015 World Cup then he should focus exclusively on the 50-over game. For the time being, he doesn’t know what his role is.

Choene Matsena Motama asked: We are not good in the ODI and T20 arena. What do you think we are lacking in the shorter formats of the game?

Makhaya Ntini: In our 50-over game in particular we haven’t found consistency. I believe the answer is to have one team for Test matches, another for ODIs and a separate one for the T20s. Because of the number of matches current internationals play over the various formats, they’ve become overloaded in terms of fatigue. I believe in giving our top players more rest so that they can maximise their potential in one particular format of the game.

Dom Valentine asked: You worked with Russell Domingo at the Warriors. What are his best qualities?

Makhaya Ntini: He is the type of coach who’s easy to talk to. During my playing career, he represented a father figure. He allowed his children, the players, the opportunity to share their views with him and express themselves both on and off the field of play. He has done very well for himself to now be part of the South African setup.

Losi Moni asked: What caused you to call it a day? You were still fit and playing well…

Makhaya Ntini: (Chuckle) that’s a difficult question to answer, what if I said I didn’t want to retire? We always say rather get out now then wait before you’re pushed out. There was no need for me to stick around… I had to make sure that I left the game with a good name.

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