Former Proteas bowler Makhaya Ntini has shared his moments of loneliness while playing for the team. He is opening up days after a debate erupted on social media about racism in the sport, more than 20 years after Cricket South Africa was readmitted to international cricket.
It followed flak dished out on social media against current international, Lungi Ngidi, who was criticised by White former players for supporting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Ntini is one of over 30 national level players of colour who signed a letter this week, saying they support Ngidi, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and believe that with honesty and sincerity all-round, lingering racism in cricket can be tackled.
Speaking to Morning Live on Friday, Ntini said: “I was forever lonely because the first thing when it comes to loneliness is not to have someone knocking at your door and say let’s go for dinner, that is loneliness on its own. Where you will watch friends calling each other and making plans right in front of you and then you will be skipped and then they will go along by themselves and they will have dinner, they will have lunch, breakfast.
At the same time, if you walk into the breakfast room, you’re the first one in the breakfast room, you will see the next person that walks in, they will never come sit next to you, that’s loneliness but you are playing in the same team together, getting in the same bus.”
‘I lost my contract’
He says that Cricket South Africa did not host an official retirement celebration for him.
“That was never the case that was never done, all of them I watched them playing every single city in South Africa because they were retiring. I was never given that opportunity as well. So my one was ‘shut’ down with immediate effect, in the same month later I lost my contract, from A-plus to no contract in South Africa.”
Ntini adds that there should be more players of colour representing South Africa.
“That has to start with the provincials, there are a lot of players of colour who are in the pipeline, we have a lot of players of colour that are really showing the signs of being good, so now the provincial is the one that they should be starting to nurse all those cricketers instead of losing them or instead of keeping them in the lower league so that there will be no issue in terms of selection. So when it comes to selection now you know, who are those players who have scored runs, who are the players who have taken wickets.”
Ntini played 101 tests for the country, took 390 wickets and played his last Test for South Africa in December 2009. He is ranked as one of the country’s top 25 players of all time.