Justin Ontong started off as a batsman, but then also added offbreaks, quicker balls and wrong'uns to make himself a more useful cricketer. Four years after making his first-class debut, Ontong got an opportunity to make his first Test, in Sydney in January 2002, but the occasion was mired in controversy, with Ontong at its unwitting centre. It emerged that Percy Sonn, the SA Board president, had overruled the selectors and insisted on the inclusion of Ontong, a Cape Coloured, ahead of Jacques Rudolph. It would be nearly three years before he earned another opportunity in Tests, but he eventually returned to the squad for the trip to India in November 2004. However, the return was short-lived as he again failed to establish himself in a strong batting order and he had to wait until early 2008 for another recall when he was named to face West Indies. A strong 2008 domestic season, during which he was the Cobras' leading run-scorer, saw Ontong included for the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 in India in 2009.