Ntini faces end of Test career

2010-01-04 07:03

Cape Town - Makhaya Ntini was dropped from the South African team to face England on Sunday in a move which could hasten the end of the black fast bowler's landmark Test career.

Ntini, 32, did not travel to the ground after being told that he was not in the team for the third Test at Newlands, the ground where he started his 101-Test career against Sri Lanka 12 seasons ago.

Although the team was not announced publicly until shortly before the toss, the players were informed of the selection on Saturday and Ntini was given the option of returning home, according to team spokesperson Michael Owen-Smith.

Ntini's axeing had been widely anticipated after he performed poorly in the first two Tests against England.

In the 2008 calendar year he took only 13 wickets in six Tests at an average of 57.00. Experts believed that a loss of pace had reduced his effectiveness.

Team-mate Mark Boucher, who made 51 on Sunday to help South Africa close on 279-6 in their first innings, said he was saddened by the decision to drop Ntini.

The fast bowler and Boucher played in 96 Tests together, with Boucher assisting in 84 of Ntini's 390 Test wickets with catches behind the stumps.

"It's a sad day," said Boucher, but he would not be drawn into speculation about whether his long-time team-mate would return to the Test side.

"I'm not a selector," he said.

Speculation about the future of a man described by both captain Graeme Smith and coach Mickey Arthur as one of South Africa's iconic cricketers was fuelled by a report in the London Sunday Telegraph which claimed Ntini was set to join English county Middlesex as a Kolpak player, which would preclude him from playing international cricket.

The Sunday Telegraph claimed Ntini intended to announce his retirement from international cricket and that he had signed a pre-contract agreement with Middlesex.

Owen-Smith said he was unaware of Ntini reaching an agreement with Middlesex.

"He is contracted to Cricket South Africa which means he cannot sign any contracts without CSA's agreement," he said.

Ntini has had a special status in South African sport as the first black African to play Test cricket for the country. Although three others have also won Test caps, Ntini remains the only black African to hold down a long-term place in the team.

At his best, Ntini was able to bowl tirelessly at high pace. He has taken 390 Test wickets at an average of 28.82, second only to South African record holder Shaun Pollock, who took 421.

Ntini has taken ten wickets in a match on four occasions, the most by any South African, and claimed the best match figures in South African Test history when he took 13 for 132 against the West Indies in Port of Spain in 2004/05.

The decision to drop Ntini was not taken lightly in a country where political considerations are an unavoidable reality.

"It's a sensitive issue in South Africa," Smith said in his captain's pre-match press conference on Saturday when asked about the debate surrounding Ntini's place.


  • Simon - 2010-01-04 07:27

    Would it be a "Sensitive issue" if he was white? No, it would be a case of, "You aren't up to standard, get lost"

  • Leon - 2010-01-04 07:36

    It's time for Makhaya to go.

  • mikeh - 2010-01-04 07:46

    Well done Makhaya, you have done us proud over the years, but now it is time to move on. Not only were you good but you were humble as well.

  • Themba - 2010-01-04 07:49

    Please Makhaya, retire and encourage other black players to retire too so that other scapegoats can be found for huge losses

  • LOL - 2010-01-04 07:54

    LOL @ Simon........i agree with you 100%!

  • Gustav - 2010-01-04 08:09

    Agree totally with Simon!!!

  • Chris in Oz - 2010-01-04 08:09

    @ Simon. Well said. Although Makhaya performed well for a long time and deserved his spot on merit, in a normal world, his axing should not be a sensitive issue. I still believe he should have done the honourable thing and retired a year ago when his form was already not on par.

  • Hannetjie - 2010-01-04 08:11

    Makhaya has been a great player and a real icon to lots of younger cricketers. Unfortunately all cricker players reach a point where they are no longer meeting the required standard. It is sad but it must be accepted that he is no longer delivering the results. Good luck to makhaya with his future in and outside of cricket !!!!

  • Kosie - 2010-01-04 08:14

    Hey. It used to be good fun watching Ntini bowl. There was always a chance of a wicket when Ntini ran up. He was in the team because he was the best, and not for political reasons. Well, up till about Test #99. After that it seems he was only selected to get his 100 and then because of his colour. I will remember Ntini for his #1 to #99 tests where he realy impressed. He should have retired then.

  • Greg - 2010-01-04 08:16

    Definitely time for this chap to go. No pace, variation, slow ball, swing, etc. Too predictable as a bowler. Served us well, but long past hiss sell by.He has made big bucks from SA cricket. Enjoy it.

  • Lilian - 2010-01-04 08:16

    Good luck in your future Makhaya. You have served your country well. I hope you remain in cricket like Alan Donald, Shaun Pollock and others. You still have a role to play. Even you will agree that your pace has slowed which made you less accurate. You weren't at your best and I'm sure you would have quit as you would never have accepted your below par performances. You were just too prefessional for that.

  • Afrikaner - 2010-01-04 08:21

    Can we now also expect to see the back of Prince and Duminy, who are also quota passengers in the team?

  • pedro - 2010-01-04 08:24

    Oh come on, Simon, who needs silly politically motivated statements on an issue like this? If you don't understand this country's issues by now. either leave, become an MP and argue in parliament, or just shut up!

  • Tshepo - 2010-01-04 08:28

    I enjoy reading comments, but only when they giving constructive critisizm. Kosie, Hannetjie and Chris, I'm black and I love your comments. They constructive and sensitive and telling the truth. No race crap and insensitive language. Ntini was a excellent bowler and age has caught up with him. He should consider retiring now. Thank You.

  • Johan Lotz - 2010-01-04 08:43

    When will South African sport grow up and choose players on merit and not on colour. When will they learn that winning teams are selected on ability and performance. I also want people of coulor to be in the teams but only if they deserve it. Ntini deserved his spot in the team and had a good career but his time to stand down or up his play has come. If he can get back in form no one will denai his . In the meentime grow up South Africa.

  • LSG - 2010-01-04 08:50

    I am black and I must admit that I was not impressed by his performance lately.His dropping is not a surprise to me and it has nothing to do with his race. This test series with England is tough and we need high performers. Good Luck Makhaya and hope that you will take the game to the Townships in order to develop other Black players who will be selected on Merit and not the colour of their skin.

  • LSG - 2010-01-04 08:52

    I am black and I must admit that I was not impressed by his performance lately.His dropping is not a surprise to me and it has nothing to do with his race. This test series with England is tough and we need high performers. Good Luck Makhaya and hope that you will take the game to the Townships in order to develop other Black players who will be selected on Merit and not the colour of their skin.

  • Rocs - 2010-01-04 08:54

    He's done wonders in the team, but he should really make way for the young ones...he remains my favourite cricketer of all time.

  • Nxuba - 2010-01-04 09:04

    I fail to understand why people are making this an issue. Makhaya has lost his form and he should give way. I also hope that other seasoned underperfomers such as Smith will also give way. The captain has became a liability and does not deserve to be in the squad nevermind leading the team.

  • skywalker - 2010-01-04 09:05

    Pollock's superb line and length always made Ntini look good by putting pressure on opposition batsmen who would then play their shots against Makhaya and invariably get out...since Polly retired Ntini has looked very ordinary...they should have retired together...where the hell is Langeveldt,our only genuine swing bowler..?

  • IVAGO - 2010-01-04 09:06

    Typicall of you whites. So glad to see the black man go. Yes it was his time. We all know it. No need to F***en celebrate like u are. No Shame. He arried our bowling attack for years and this is what you give him. I think you should stick your thanks where it dont belong. How long before Pollock was dropped from tests when we all knew he was way passed his best.

  • Dave - 2010-01-04 09:07

    Makhaya, please don't quit cricket for good. You still have a huge role to play in SA. You need to encourage black children to do what you have done - not necessarily cricket, but teaching how dedication and hardwork will lead one to success. You are a legend, an icon and a rolemodel! Best of luck!

  • faizal - 2010-01-04 09:08

    u dumb afrikaner... prince averages 45 in tests and has 12 hundreds.. not a quota player and ntine took 390 test wickets... please got back to ventersdorp , you rascist boer.....u prob one of he persons who still longs for a awb provice... only god can help your kind...

  • Clive - 2010-01-04 09:15

    Dear Mr Afrikaner: people like you the country does not need. Ntini was NOT a a quota player. He served his country well, and all genuine cricket lovers - those without a racial agenda - will thank him for that, and wish him well in the future.

  • Charles - 2010-01-04 09:19

    There is merit in all the comments made thus far, but to be fair, even though Ntini was considered a quota player, I believe he deserved his place in the team. Having said that, I also agree that his time is up, based on performance and he should make space for another better player, black or white. As long as it is because of merrit and not colour of skin. Politics in sport must stop now...

  • Jimbo - 2010-01-04 09:22

    Yeah, Ntini has done us proud! Well done boytjie!!! And just for the record, I'm tired of hearing about 'players of colour'. White is a colour too!!!

  • Anneke - 2010-01-04 09:23

    I agree with Lilian. You were great for many years. However, please do not leave cricket totally as you still have so much to give to others!!

  • Lumumba - 2010-01-04 09:25

    Is it all about Ntini alone or the whole crew? I mean, look at their perfomance yesterday- twas so pathetic, they are not in their good form. The selectors ought to have dropped the whole squad, period!

  • @ Fazal - 2010-01-04 09:27

    I agree with you Fazal, and I am white. Prince is not a quota player, BUT he is not coping at 2. I will push him back at 6 and let Duminy and Amla compete for no 3. We should then start looking at a new opener. Maybe even Amla to open, although he is also not on form. A pity Jaques Rudolph is not available.

  • VJ - 2010-01-04 09:30

    It is sad but all fast bowlers can carry on for so long. There was no hooha when Donald or Pollock retired. We were sad not going to see them again but in the end, they put it all back again. I would like to se Ntini as the bowling coach for SA.

  • Seeps - 2010-01-04 09:38

    Mak should go overseas and exploit the fact that after a below par season for him last he is still considered a top 10 bowler according to the ICC test rankings. The idiots going on about race are exactly that.......idiots. Mak's had a phenomenal career and he should be praised as a cricketer not a BLACK cricketer. 390 test wicket's isn't bad for someone with "no variation". Afrikaaner - Ashwell Prince is a middle order batsmen being trialed as an opener, JP Duminy is most probably the most gifted cricketer in this country after Herschelle so shut your mouth and have another Boerie roll you uneducated dutchie.

  • Johan - 2010-01-04 09:42

    Thank you for all the enjoyment you gave me Makhaya I am an Afrikaner and Makhaya you where this best. Good luck to you and your family.

  • @ Nxuba - 2010-01-04 09:45

    I agree 100% with you. Our captain has underperformed for quite a while now. He also fails to inspire his team and the typical fighting spirit was clearly lacking in the second test. Hopeful;ly it will go better this time around. I agree with the sacking on Ntini, but don't blame the failure on just one guy, it's a team effort and the lack of leadership from either captain and coach was quite clear. Move Price to Nr 3 and Amla to open, it will make a huge difference in the batting line-up. Fight back Proteas, we are still behind you!!!

  • Frans - 2010-01-04 10:07

    Price should be dropped also along with Ntini. Ntini did a lot for the sport and the 100th test send off was very good indeed for the man. He's was brilliant for us and we should always remember that and think back of him. All the best to him for the future.

  • theend - 2010-01-04 10:11

    Blame it on makhaya , blame it on Ashwell , blame it on Duminy, blame it on hashim . but never on Boucher , fat man Smith or those useless Morkels brothers . Its when these Afrikaaners transport their rugby mentality to cricket . Makhaya should have realised that once you are black and lose form the press will haunt you out of the team .

  • Mooper - 2010-01-04 10:18

    Every fairytale comes to an end. I hope Makhaya's will be a happy one. His story is truly the stuff of legend and his work ethic is inspirational. One story that I like is that he ran the 20km to cricket practice. We could all learn a great deal about overcoming obstacles through hard work and dedication from Makhaya's cricketing career. I hope he will start a cricketing academy in the Eastern Cape.

  • Die Afrikan - 2010-01-04 10:33

    It is asad, that Makhaya's career is being cut short at a time when he needs the support of the crickert authorities. As much as you would want to speak of "meritocracy", let the truth be said, race is a factor in sport in this country...Lets take a look at Shaun Pollock, he struggled in the 2 seasons before his retirement. But you kno what, he was given support and encouraged to regain his rythm. Y u may ask? Because he was white. In this current Test series...they say Mak has lost form. Of coz, we all agree he has lost pace...No doubt..But that Y we have Fast-medium bowlers...which he can do @ this juncture in his life...HE took wickets in Centurion...Come to Durban, did he take any wickets? No...But did Steryn take any as well? I dont remember..Two sets of rules apply in SA cricket..For the pale and non-pale...Look@ Thami Tsolekile..He was only given a match or two as WK, and actually did well..But in spite of that, they continued playing an out of form, past the peak Boucher.As a result Tami is disullioned..n his carrer has just gone down the drain....Transformation is aforeign term to SA cricket i tell you!!

  • Clive - 2010-01-04 10:35

    For goodness sake, let's stop looking at the colour of a player's skin, and consider form and ability only. The selectors must take the blame for persisting with Prince as an opener; he is needed at number 5 or so. We need another number 2 - what about Alviro Peterson, or maybe AB, who has opened in ODIs? Duminy got a bummer from the ump yesterday, but his form has been poor. Give him a break from tests - he is good enough to bounce back. In response to "theend": Morkel was our best bowler at Kingsmead, and Boucher has more fight in him than some of his team-mates. As for Makaya, the end tends to come quickly for fast bowlers once they pass 30, so it was not just a case of a temporary loss of form.

  • G - 2010-01-04 10:48

    I think if he announced his retirement in his 100th test it would have been fitting. For he is a great bowler and the best personality South African cricket has had!

  • Mark - 2010-01-04 10:59

    What a laugh, blaming Mak for our incompetent team and worse captain. Yes Mak's lost his pace and should retire gracefully but we didn't lose because of him. Our tubby captain should be replaced. And we need more Ntini's in the team not less. In his day the man could bowl, though his fielding was sloopy. We also need spin bowlers from chatsworth and laudium. Our bowling attack desperately needs the diversity. I am sure we have more talent in this country then is currently represented in the team.

  • Bob - 2010-01-04 11:04

    Makhaya has been amongst the best in the world and done S.Africa proud. However his time has come to bow out gracefully. He has always been one of the fittest an dedicated players and should be remembered as such. Remember Polly retired a couple of years ago and he is still on top with averages in the world. Hamba Gashla

  • Gemsbok - 2010-01-04 11:05

    Do we want Ntini to go because he is black? For goodness sakes that is not the point. I was one of his biggest fans on the days that he was playing well. I still like him, but he is not at his best anymore. Anyone with a brain can see that he is not performing well. The problem is with the administrators. Why havent they seek for a succesor for Ntini (if you want, a black player in the same class as Ntini)? Management was in a comfort zone for far to long. Wake up guys, or do want to answer to Mr Julius Malnma about the colour of the team? With Amla, Prince and Duminy playing not doing so great either, what are they going to do? Prince is NOT pulling his wheight in the team.

  • theend - 2010-01-04 11:26

    @clive : look at all the top teams and their WK , can you say boucher is in the same batting class as them ?? He might have the fight but I dont think he has the class . Wouldnt it be apropriate to check other options and maybe give him a rest ?? As for the Morkel brothers , how many chances has the taller one had and he has failed ?? Graeme Smith might have lost a few kilos right-now, but over the past few yrs it seems he has been eating the 12th man`s lunch and supper . And he continually messes up . When it comes to the other players like makhaya , prince or hashim ,, one mistake is good enough for them to leave the team . Donald played until he was an embarassment but makhaya is not even given a chance to change and adapt his game .

  • @Afrikaner & LSG - 2010-01-04 11:32

    @LSG What has your colour got to do with your views? Surely, the fact you are black does not make your views more acceptable that those from Afrikaner. Fact remains that Ntini is not on form and on this he should be dropped. My problem is not that he was dropped, but when a team loses by an innings and 100 runs, is it fair to make one person the scapegoat? Boucher has failed countless times, but was kept in the team. Kallis struggled last year and it was never contemplated that he would be dropped. Smith's captaincy cannot be considered shrewed as that of Strauss and sometimes Ponting (though Ponting's antics leave much to be desired). In fact, Smith has got to be one of the worst Captains and a decent if not good openner. Ntini was not the only cause of the innings defeat and I find it odd that only he was dropped. So, I hope they lose big and perhaps Duminy, Amla and Prince will be the next to go, and we will have the old apartheid squad again. Gibbs has been blamed already in the one day games, while none of the white players ever get blamed for lack of performance

  • @Gemsbok - 2010-01-04 11:43

    @Gemsbok I think we agree that Ntini has not performed well in the past 2 tests and his average is looking bad for 2009 (when he did not spend the time carrying drinks). What we cannot agree on is that Ntini is solely responsible for the Innings defeat. If you say he is, then perhaps we need to debate whether he is the only player that did not perform. We failed in the batting side of things, while none of our bowlers really did anything with the ball. Harris is a useless git Boucher was useless for a while Morkel was useless for a while Smith is an awful Captain De Villiers was given a chance long enough to establish himself So, it is suprising that a team that gets walloped blames only one player for the defeat. So, it is not about dropping Ntini, but preserving other useless players. Even when McKenzie was playing, he was given more than two series to fail miserably before he was finally dropped. In the meantime, Prince was dropped as a result of injury and Duminy took him place and now Prince finds himself openning when that is not his spot. Do you think he will tell anyone he is injured next time? Can you imagine Kallis, Smith, De Villiers or any of the whites losing their spot on the team as a result of injury? Yes, race has everything to do with it, if only Ntini is blamed for the defeat. Who will they blame next? Amla, Prince and Duminy and leave the White Hypes in the team?

  • Best Spin Bowler of All Time - 2010-01-04 11:45


  • Julius M - 2010-01-04 11:53

    The selector have failed the rainbow nation once to many time, The African is now the fall guy and the reason for the team's loss. We need an African Team representing the 80% of us. Our kids can start dreaming of playing for the national cricket team.

  • JC - 2010-01-04 12:16

    It is time lot of people grew up in SA, always the race issue bothways, why cannot as debate an issue without all the race issues. Mak has passed his prime and should have accepted that after 100 tests. Prince should bat at 4 or 5 and not open Maybe Amla should open or Petersen and drop Dunimy as he has lost all confidence. Just do not see anybody else putting their hands up at this stage. They must just pull finger and stop talking the talk and start walking the walk

  • Die Afrikan - 2010-01-04 12:20

    Ditto!! Couldnt have said it better!!!! look at all the top teams and their WK , can you say boucher is in the same batting class as them ?? He might have the fight but I dont think he has the class . Wouldnt it be apropriate to check other options and maybe give him a rest ?? As for the Morkel brothers , how many chances has the taller one had and he has failed ?? Graeme Smith might have lost a few kilos right-now, but over the past few yrs it seems he has been eating the 12th man`s lunch and supper . And he continually messes up . When it comes to the other players like makhaya , prince or hashim ,, one mistake is good enough for them to leave the team . Donald played until he was an embarassment but makhaya is not even given a chance to change and adapt his game .

  • tshepo - 2010-01-04 12:23

    although Ntini hasn't played well lately, he must fight to regain his place and break Pollock's record. Fight on Makhaya Ntini...until that record falls.