Makhaya Ntini was born on 6 July 1977. He grew up in a small village in the Eastern Cape called Mdingi. Ntini is a product of the United Cricket Board's development program. Raymond Booi, a cricket development officer noticed Ntini’s talent while traveling around the Eastern Cape area introducing the game to rural boys.
Ntini was given a pair of boots and packed off to Dale College in King William’s Town, one of the country's best regarded cricketing nurseries. Ntini was 14 and couldn’t speak English, but soon excelled and in 1994 and 1995 he represented Border Schools at the Nuffield Week for under 19s. He was also in the under 19 national team and made his debut against England in 1995, where he bowled Alec Stewart out.
Ntini became popular amongst national selectors as a talented Black player and found himself touring Australia at the end of 1997 when Roger Telemachus failed a fitness test. He made his South African one-day debut at Perth in early 1998, bowling well in helpful conditions. His test debut came against Sri Lanka in the same year and he was part of the winning South African team in the Commonwealth Games.
In December 1998 Ntini was accused of rape. He insisted that he was innocent and the United Cricket Board supported him. He was, however, found guilty. He faced a 6 year jail sentence and even though he had the Cricket Board’s backing they couldn’t pay his legal fees, eliminating any possibility for appeal. Dr. Ali Bacher arranged overseas funding for the appeal and the conviction was overturned.
Ntini was not chosen for the South Africa National team again until the Sharjah tournament in 2000 where he both surprised and impressed observers with greater control than had been evident previously. Ntini went on to became the first South African to take ten wickets at Lord's in 2003 before devastating the West Indies in Trinidad in 2005 with 13 for 132, the best-ever match figures by a South African bowler.
Ntini kept up his excellent bowling figures and in June 2006, he was awarded a benefit by Border for his ten years' service to the game.