Thando Ntini is a prodigious talent

It is not only the tale of the tape – he is broad-shouldered and 1.90 metres tall and his surname is Ntini – that impresses observers and analysts the most about the 16-year-old Thando Ntini with whom the Western Province Academy interim head coach and recently awarded WPCA Coach of the Year, Siya Sibiya, has worked tirelessly to propel him into the South African U19 team.

“Sure, he is Makhaya Ntini’s son,” says Cricket South Africa’s Head of Tertiary and Youth Cricket Niels Momberg, “But what really strikes me, is his natural talent,” he says.

Makhaya Ntini captured 390 wickets for South Africa and is a legendary former Proteas’ fast bowler.

“Thando hits good areas regularly and nips the ball around, thereby creating pressure,” said Momberg, who has been working at CSA for 19 years.

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“I think he can bowl at 135 km/h once he grows a bit stronger,” he said.

Sibiya thinks the young Ntini can bowl 140 km/h or faster and is a prodigious talent. He swings the new ball a bit, but moves it off the seam as well. And his dedication and determination as well as work ethic has impressed Sibiya enormously.

Western Province have taken Ntini under their wings while he is playing for Wynberg High School.

They gave him a trial run at a Colts one-day match in Durbanville and he impressed immensely.

At the Colts week in Potchefstroom, he bowled superbly and also put in some decent performances with the bat.

Sibiya said when he failed at number four against KwaZulu-Natal and struggled against the spinners, he went into the nets and spent a long time with the Cape Cobras Colts to improve his game.

In his next match, against Northerns, he was undefeated on 40 and played the spinners well.

Two years ago, while still at Selborne College, Ntini was perceived to be an extremely promising left-handed top-order star.

“Now he is seen as a potential phenomenal opening bowler who can become South Africa’s first true black all-rounder,” said Sibiya.

And the coach said he was enormously impressed with the determination and ambition of Ntini. He said while he was training at the Western province Academy under Sibiya, he ran from the high-performance centre to Wynberg Boys High and back. He did this four times per week.

At boarding school, he gets up six o’ clock in the morning and sprints around the track. He has invited some of the other athletes to join him.

The young Ntini is aggressive, is not afraid to slip in a fast bouncer or a yorker.

The next step is representing South Africa at U19 level in July against the West Indies in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. “To a certain agree, he is already following in Makhaya’s footsteps, because Makhaya represented the SA U19 team in 1995,” Momberg said.

“One other thing I like about him, is his action. He has a very good action,” Momberg commented.

“He is a very focused young man and he wants to go the distance, without the aid of his father,” said Sibiya.