The debate on who between Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara was the best batsman in the 1990s and 2000s refuses to die down, but former South Africa pacer Makhaya Ntini believes that Lara was just too difficult to dislodge from the crease and would need 110 per cent effort from the bowling unit.
“Facing Australia in Australia and India in India has always been tough. But when it comes to bowling at the toughest batsman, Lara was just too much. He was one of those guys whom you just couldn’t wake up and bowl to. You needed to do your homework 110 percent,” Ntini said during an Instagram live chat with Pommie Mbangwa.
Another major issue in South African cricket has been ethnicity and Ntini said that it was due to their performances that players like Kagiso Rabada have got their due in the current generation.
“I was often made aware by the media of my ethnicity but I didn’t think about the colour of my skin. In fact, I would never feel such a thing around my teammates and would look at myself as a part of the team. When I used to put on my jersey, I felt that I represented South Africa and I wasn’t alone. I would play with 10 others and we all had the same aim: that is to win. Slowly, I began to win man of the match and man of the series awards and people realised that I am here to achieve for my country.
“When other black players came through, I would always tell them: ‘Make best use of the opportunity and etch your names in history. But then, you won’t be able to do that if you are not performing’. Somehow, we all did well. Our performances earned us recognition. Today, there is a Rabada because we had performed back then. We had to pave the way for guys like Rabada and Ngidi so that they can have a life of luxury now,” Ntini pointed.