In stunning revelation, Makhaya Ntini recalls being isolated by his own South African teammates

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Makhaya Ntini. Photo: AFP

Former South African fast bowler Makhaya Ntini has made an astonishing revelation in the midst of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, recalling how he felt an outsider and was kept at an arm's length by his  teammates with whom he played international cricket for 14 years.

Ntini's comments came on a South African morning show where he explained the systematic racism deeply ingrained in his country's cricket, even at levels where one usually does not suspect.

"I was forever lonely because the first thing that comes mind is not to have someone knocking at your door and say 'let's go for dinner,' he said.

"That's loneliness on its own. Where you will watch friends calling each other and then having plans right in front of you and you will be skipped and they will go by themselves.

"They will have dinner, lunch, breakfast and at the same time when you walk into the breakfast room if you are the first one in the breakfast room you will see the next person that walks in he will never come and sit next to you.

"That's loneliness but you are playing with him in the same team together, getting into the same bus, drive all the way to the stadium and then practice at the same time and bowl to them and wear the same clothes and then we sing the same national anthem. I had to find a way to overcome this.

"I found a way that became one of the best weapons of my life whereby I will go to the driver of the bus early morning and then I would give him my bag and say to him 'I'll meet you at the ground. I would run to the cricket ground.

"And then the same thing on my way back, I would give the bus driver my dirty clothes and I would say 'I will see you at the hotel.' I would run all the way back to the hotel.

"People never understood why I was doing that and I would never say to them this is why I am doing this - to avoid A,B,C, D.

"It became my best thing ever, right through my cricket career, not having to worry about someone else and telling them I will meet them at the ground because I'm running away from that loneliness from driving from the hotel 20 minutes to the ground and driving from the ground 20 minutes to the hotel."

Ntini paid tribute to the BLM movement, explaining how it empowered him and others like him to speak up rather than keeping it all in for good.

"We are still young, we are still able to sit down with our own kids and reach out to them rather than waiting until you are 65 and that's when you're going to tell your grandchildren this is what we used to do," he said.

Makhaya Ntini recalls being isolated by his own South African teammates