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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Ntini's passion key to success
By Oliver Brett

Quite possibly the fittest cricketer on the planet, Makhaya Ntini sent down 48 overs of aggressive pace bowling during the Lord's Test.

Makhay Ntini soaks up the applause
Ntini soaks up the atmosphere after taking the 10th wicket

And not once did this 26-year-old flag, not once did he resort to bowling stock deliveries.

Every time he tore into the crease, drifting to his left at the last second before arrowing in a delivery from his customary wide angle.

And when the dust had settled, Ntini had taken a symmetrical five wickets in each innings.

As the match approached its end-game on Sunday, Ntini had already bowled a stack of overs during the first two sessions.

But when Darren Gough was dismissed by Shaun Pollock shortly after tea, a most interesting moment ensued.

Andrew Hall was due to start his second over after the interval but with a new batsman, Steve Harmison, on strike, he called captain Graeme Smith over.

Ntini, Hall reasoned, had a golden opportunity to remove Harmison and take a coveted five-wicket haul for the second time in the match.

It was charitable move from the all-rounder who had taken regular wickets of his own in the match.

And the spectators were thrilled. Before the interval they had witnessed the theatre of Flintoff taking Ntini's short balls on and, mostly, winning.

Now they knew they would not be let down. Flintoff still needed his century and he went on to plunder Ntini for a hatful of boundaries before he got there.

But moments later, Harmison obliged by edging the fast bowler, appropriately enough, to Hall in the slips.

Makhaya Ntini
Discovered herding cattle in the Eastern Cape
Coached on a UCB scholarship at Dale College
Made international debut in January 1998
Has taken 114 wickets in 33 Tests at an average of 28.16

The hero of the day was probably Flintoff, but the star of the match was undoubtedly Ntini.

And considering Graeme Smith had thumped the highest score ever by an overseas player at Lord's, that shows just how good Ntini was.

Yes, he was expensive, but frankly the track was so good that wickets had to be bought.

Five batsmen perished because they thought they could hook him, but they were not quick enough to get in position to play the shot.

Two batsmen were bowled, and his last three victims fell to catches in the slips.

After day one at Lord's, Ntini said he hoped the new generation of South African cricketers "would come and see that Makhaya Ntini has taken five wickets here."

He was referring to Lord's famous honours board on which his name will be inscribed a staggering three times - once for each five-for and once for the 10-wicket haul.

On Sunday, after removing Harmison, Ntini bent low to kiss the wicket that had yielded so much joy for him.

"I'm just a person who plays cricket and if people judge me as a role model it's an honour," Ntini told this website in an interview before the Test series.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that kids all over South Africa will be imitating Ntini's pitch-kissing gesture when their next season starts.

Links to more Eng v SA 2003 stories



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