Ntini says he and Becks discussed underpants during a shared hotel room chat

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Cape Town (S. Africa), Dec. 15 (ANI): What does the most famous sportsman in South Africa talk about when he meets the most famous sportsman from Britain-fast cars, fast women and fast yachts? No. Underpants.

That is Makhaya Ntini, always irreverent and almost always with a smile on his face, which is why he is the most important sportsman South Africa has produced.

Ntini is more than simply the first black African to play cricket for South Africa. The rural boy who turned up for the Border Under-15s bowling trial wearing plimsolls with the sole flapping lose has become a symbol of what this country has achieved since the end of the Apartheid isolation in 1992.

Such is his standing that Ntini, who will win his 100th Test cap when South Africa play England at Centurion in the first Test tomorrow, found himself on the stage in Cape Town with some of the most recognisable people around, including David Beckham.

"I shared a dressing room with David Beckham and I even asked him if it was true that he does not use underwear twice," said Ntini. "He said he had heard about this story but it was all lies.

"But I said to him, 'You know what? If I was your gardener I would sleep next to your dustbin because I know the following morning something is going to be dumped there and it's only going to have been used once, so I can use it again'."

Ntini has an infectious personality that has helped carry him through a remarkable journey since his Test debut in 1998.

He was the political darling of the establishment, who were horrified and then relieved when he was convicted for and then cleared of rape.

When he was thrown into the Test team at the age of 20, it was only partly because of his promise as a fast bowler.

The colour of his skin had as much to do with it because, although non-whites had played for South Africa, the country needed a black African to break through the barriers.

Ntini remembers it was not an easy introduction and says he did not feel accepted. "Not really, no. It was a very hard stage because it was white dominant in the sport," he said.

"But for me to stick around for so long and break through, that's when I realised, and they realised, that I belong in this country and I belong in this sport."

Ntini, 32, has proved his progress. He is about to become only the fifth South African to reach 100 Tests while his 388 wickets place him second in the country's wicket-takers to Shaun Pollock's 421. (ANI)

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