|You became a Christian through the influence of your wife, Kate. Tell us how it happened.
As a teenager I was confirmed in a church, but that didn't mean much to me at the time. I was just a Christmas and Easter Christian. Those were the only times I'd go to church. But then I met Kate (McCarthy). She was very committed and so were her mom and dad, Pauline and Alan. I saw the peace that Kate had with the Lord and I wanted it. I had just got into the Natal cricket and hockey teams at the time and I was feeling a lot of pressure. I was staying on my own and life was a real struggle. I remember thinking to myself one night, "Jonty, you're going nowhere."
I knew I needed the Lord in my life, and started going to church in Pietermaritzburg. One night, I caught the minister, Errol Jacoby, after the service and asked him for help. He took me into the cry room at the back of the church. The crying room-it was kind of appropriate, because it was there that I cried my heart out to the Lord and gave my life to Him. I must have cried for about two and a half-hours. I look back on that experience as a cleansing of the Spirit.
Now I know why God put Kate and I together, because she was the one that set me on the right track.
What difference has being a Christian made in your life?
I feel I've grown up in my personality and become more giving since becoming a Christian. You realize that you don't take the glory. God gives your life and your sporting career a sense of purpose.
It must be difficult for married players being away from their wives on tour. How do you handle the pressure your career brings?
Any tour over two months, Kate will fly over and join me for at least four weeks. We feel that as long as we are growing closer to God, we are growing closer to each other. Our phone bill goes through the roof!
How long have you been married and what do you appreciate most about Kate?
Four years on April 16. She still loves me after eight years of travelling around the globe-several times.
Do Christians in the national squad find many opportunities to share their faith? How do you encourage each other?
We try and get together whenever possible to support and encourage each other. We also get the chance to share our faith at various churches, dinners and breakfasts.
Some people have been critical of the fact that Peter Pollock, an outspoken Christian, is one of the national selectors and gives Christian players such as yourself an edge in the selection process. What's your response?
I would be so lucky! There is no ways that we have an edge, as both Andrew Hudson and I have been left out of the Test side before.
You're seen by many of the public as the most vibrant player on the field. (Who can forget the famous run out of Inzaman-ul-Haq when you went driving across his stumps?) How do you handle the adulation of the fans?
It's a fantastic opportunity to be able to make a difference, albeit a small one, in the lives of many people. I have never had anyone do anything they or I might regret, as I think that people respect the fact that I am a Christian.
What made you decide to make cricket your career?
Cricket chose me, as I was expecting to play hockey, not cricket, for SA. I loved both games equally, but I was soon established in the cricket team, and two winter tours, one to Sri Lanka and one to England, put paid to my hockey aspirations.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
My first game for SA against Australia at the 1992 World Cup.
And the lowest point?
Although I do not enjoy losing, there has been no low point, as it is always an honor to represent your country.
Tell us about the future. How long do you intend playing cricket professionally?
My future is in the Lord's hands, and I know that He'll open the appropriate doors for me after my professional career is over. But I will keep playing as long as I am enjoying the game-or until the selectors stop picking me!
After ten year of service for your Province, you've been granted a benefit year by the Natal Cricket Union. What are some of the events you've planned and how can readers support you in this?
We start if off on April 3 with the NBS Breakfast, and then during the supper break of the game between SA and Pakistan that same night, we are holding the Jonty Rhodes Game R100 000 hit-the-stumps competition.
Once we come back from England (September 1998) we are also going to hold a corporate 6-a-side tournament and an All-Stars celebrity match. We are hoping that the likes of Ernie Els and David Frost can join a few of the SA Rugby players as they display their cricket skills!
We're also going to have a Family Day at my old school, Maritzburg College, where the focus will be having a great deal of fun!
We are also in the process of setting up a website where people will be able to order some of my memorabilia, as well as having access to the diary of events-so watch this space!
What do you plan to do when the floodlights are turned off and your career as Jonty the cricketer draws to a close?
Get on with my responsibilities as a husband, and one day, as a father.
What are your business interests off the field?
I endorse various products, ranging from formal trousers to sun protection. But to date I haven't been able to focus on anything other than my present occupation-cricket.
What are you feelings about South Africa?
I have traveled around the world (a few times) and I miss South Africa and her wonderful people everytime I leave. There is no other place in the world that is as diverse and beautiful as ours is. I'm proud of my country, and I encourage all South Africans to take responsibility for what is happening in our communities-it's the only home we'll have on Earth.