South African cricket legend Makhaya Ntini’s son, Thando Ntini, has shed light on the challenges his father faced during his illustrious career, revealing that Makhaya felt he was in “survival mode” and “constantly fighting for his life.” Makhaya Ntini, the first black cricketer to represent South Africa in Tests, retired with a remarkable 662 wickets across formats.
Thando Ntini opened up about the loneliness his father experienced during tours, where he often found himself excluded from dinner plans made by other players. Speaking on the Load Shed Podcast, Thando expressed his father’s sense of isolation: “He just felt like he was constantly fighting for his life. It sucks to hear him when he can count with his hands how many times he was invited to a dinner with the gents.”
The younger Ntini emphasized the significance of camaraderie on tours, explaining how players usually plan dinner outings upon arrival. Unfortunately, Makhaya Ntini rarely received invitations and, as a result, operated in a perpetual “survival mode,” solely focused on securing a future for himself and his family.
Thando Ntini further revealed that his father refrains from discussing the mistreatment he endured during his time with the national team, aiming to shield his son from potential negative impacts on his budding cricket career. Thando explained, “Post-cricket, he doesn’t speak about it. He doesn’t want to create a hostile environment for me in the industry because of the stuff that he says.”
Makhaya Ntini’s son on how his dad hates any conversations about his career due to the way he was treated by his white co-teammates. Such a shame that people continue to bemoan efforts for diversity in SA cricket in the name of “this is politics” but stay silent on racism. pic.twitter.com/WBWZgbsZL2
— World Champions 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 (@ChadvumaFan) February 3, 2024
Makhaya Ntini’s decision to remain tight-lipped stems from a desire to ensure Thando’s smooth progression in the cricketing world. Thando recounted his father’s advice: “He keeps quiet to protect you so that you can have a long-lasting career, and I want you to have a smooth career and you make your own mistakes.”
This revelation offers a poignant perspective on the challenges faced by black cricketers, even legends like Makhaya Ntini, highlighting the importance of addressing diversity and inclusion within the cricketing community. Thando Ntini’s candid insights come in the wake of South African fast bowler Lungi Ngidi’s stance on the Black Lives Matter movement, emphasizing the ongoing need for change and awareness.