Former South African fast bowler Makhaya Ntini was the second ethnically black cricketer to play international cricket for South Africa. He was not only the most unorthodox yet successful bowler of his era, but he was also an icon for black people, black sportspersons and black kids in his country.
While he seemed to possess few of the standard characteristics of a booming fast bowler, however, with his open chested bowling action and perfect short pitched deliveries, Ntini achieved almost 400 Test wickets that stands testimony to his genius.
Born on this day in 1977, he went on to become one of the most successful bowlers to have played for the South African national team. In an 11-year international career, he represented the Proteas in 101 Tests and 173 ODIs. The former pacer took 390 Test and 266 ODI wickets, and is an inspiration to an entire generation. He also played 10 T20Is and took six wickets in them.
He played alongside stalwarts such as Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Lance Klusener among others. And by the time he retired from international cricket, he was the then South Africa’s second highest wicket-taker in Tests with 390 wickets.
As the legend celebrates his big day, we look at five of his best bowling spells that made him one of the greatest bowlers to ever feature in the game of cricket.
2003: 10/220 vs England, Lord’s
The pacer etched his name in history books when he became the first South African to take 10 wickets in a Test at Lord’s. Ntini’s match haul of 10/220 (5/75 and 5/145) in 2003 resulted in an innings victory for the Proteas. He shared the Man of the Match award with Graeme Smith, who scored 259.
2005: 13/32 vs West Indies, Port of Spain
With his match haul of 13/132 (6/95 in the first and 7/37 in second innings) against West Indies at Port of Spain in 2005, Ntini added yet another record to his name. He also surpassed the great Hugh Tayfield s 13 for 165 to achieve the best bowling figures in a match by a South African in the longest format.
2006: 5/21 vs Pakistan, Mohali
The pace legend produced another lethal spell in the white bowl format to hand his side a crushing 124-run victory over Pakistan in a Group B match of the ICC Champions Trophy in Mohali, India.
2006: 10/145 vs New Zealand, Centurion
He claimed his second consecutive 10-wicket haul as South Africa registered a 128-run victory over New Zealand in the first Test. Ntini, took 5/95 in the first innings and claimed 5/51 in the second to finish with match figures of 10/145.
2006: 6/22 vs Australia, Cape Town
In the second ODI of the five-match series, defending 289, Ntini made it impossible for the visitors to chase down the target. He tore through the Australian line-up with a stunning 6/22 in 9.3 overs, his career best bowling figures guiding SA to a massive 196-run victory.