Departing overseas star Ntini on his time with Kent

Monday 31st May 2010

South African Test-match legend Makhaya Ntini (pictured) played his final game for the county yesterday in the Clydesdale Bank 40 win over the Scottish Saltires. The quick-bowler steamed in with his usual determination to record figures of 1-28, from his final eight overs for the club this season.

However it has been his overall impact at the St Lawrence Ground that has helped galvanise the side to three victories in a week, with his match figures of 10-104 helping to decimate Durham last week in the LV= County Championship. With his constant chirping and enthusiasm in the outfield the man fondly known as ‘George“ has made his way into the affections of the Kent faithful and now, with his county stint at an end, the man with 390 Test-match wickets to his name talks to the official club website about his time in England and his desire to return to the county one day.

How did you find your experience with Kent?

I had a very good time and really enjoyed the experience. Everyone made me feel welcome and it was good fun. Looking from the outside, I think people would say that the boys enjoyed having me around so I would say that it was a big success.

What moments stand out as being extra special?

I was lucky enough to enjoy some real good moments. When you first join a team, nobody really knows or understands you so you have to learn to deal with the culture and how the dressing room works. Kent has a diverse range of characters; the likes of Azhar Mahmood, Amjad Khan, all the English boys, myself and then a Dutchman in Martin van Jaarsveld! There is a broad mix of culture. For me, the best moment is when you get welcomed. It is a special day because you know that everyone wants you to do well for the duration of your stay and will back you throughout.

You made a tremendous impact with the ball, finishing with 24 LV= County Championship wickets, at an average of 19.75. Is it slightly disappointing to be leaving now?

Yes, I guess so. I think the club would like me to stay but I have things planned for the rest of the year. You never really know how things will go, when you arrive, but I“ve really enjoyed my time with Kent and hope that I will get the chance to come back for a spell in the future and hopefully stay for a longer period.

Do you think you“ve done enough to nudge the South African selectors into a Test recall?

I hope so but there is nothing I can really do on that. My main reason for coming was to show that I am still capable of doing a good job and was not going downhill. I“m slightly disappointed because I“ve never been told by Cricket South Africa that they don“t need me – yet they didn“t come to watch me with Kent. I would like them to tell me what I should be working on and to help me get back in. I think it is unfair to drop someone for failing in one Test match.

Off the field, people have said you“ve made a massive contribution. You have a big personality. Has that always been the case?

I love life and feel I have an infectious personality! I come from a family of seven kids so you quickly learn to understand when people need picking up and the right things to say. It is important to look after your friends and family. The big personality has been with me from the start.

Back off to South Africa now. Just describe what you will be doing in your home country?

I am acting as an ambassador at the football World Cup and have so many other things in the pipeline too. I am building an academy for the kids and want it to be state of the art. I want to give people an opportunity to play cricket because playing sport can make a massive difference to their lives. I already have some backing and will use some of my own money but if people would like to act as a sponsor then I would be delighted to hear from them. They can call me on +27 83 212 80 22 or email for further information.

Can you see yourself coming back to Kent in the future?

I would certainly like to. I was at the gym with Keysy over the weekend and we discussed the possibility of getting me back to Kent. I“ve enjoyed it here and would love to come and play for a whole season. I care passionately about helping youngsters and want to help shape the next generation of cricketers coming through. We have some good youngsters at Kent and it is important that the senior pros, people like me, work with them. I was fortunate to learn off the likes of Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Brian McMillan and Lance Klusener. It is essential that people pass on their knowledge and opinions. Experienced players know the correct lengths to bowl and can talk to the younger players and coach them through tough situations. I have taken 390 Test wickets and now want to pass on my experience and hopefully help some players start to breaking through and think of earning international honours themselves.

Picture:Getty Images