Transvaal v Rhodesia, A Section, Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Reports taken from the Rhodesia Herald unless otherwise stated. - 3, 5 December 1966
GRIPPER IS DROPPED (Tuesday 22 November 1966)
After eight seasons of unbroken tenancy in the Rhodesian cricket team, opening batsman Ray Gripper was yesterday dropped from the team which goes on tour, top play Transvaal in Johannesburg on December 3-5-6, and Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth on December 9-10-12.
Gripper is replaced by young John Wallace, the Winstonians opening batsman, who has for so long figured as 12th man for Rhodesia, and left-arm seamer Huntsman Williams is recalled after withdrawing through injury from the Natal match.
The team is: A Pithey (capt), Ullyett, Frangos, Bland, du Preez, Parker, Gardiner, Deudney, Partridge, N Williams, H Williams, J Wallace. Manager, Mr Alwyn Pichanick.
EDDIE PARKER HURT BUT STILL IN TOUR XI (Friday 25 November 1966)
Rhodesian cricketers Nick Frangos and Eddie Parker, who were involved in a car accident after the Currie Cup match against Natal on Monday night, are still in the 12 for the tour to South Africa starting in Johannesburg on 3 December.
Mr Alwyn Pichanick, Rhodesian selector and manager of the team, said Parker sustained a cut wrist, and Frangos, plus the Natal players Anton and Mike Procter, who were also in the car, were unhurt.
Our correspondent in Bulawayo says Parker has his right wrist strapped up, but can use his fingers. He is to have a medical examination on Monday to get clearance for the trip.
RHODESIA'S MAKE OR BREAK TOUR
Fred Cleary's Column (Sunday Mail, 27 November 1966)
The Rhodesian cricket team embarks on a mission of redemption this week.
After three decisive defeats in a row, Tony Pithey and his players must acquit themselves well against Transvaal (December 3-6) and Eastern Province (December 9-12) in their two remaining Currie Cup matches, or else the Rhodesian public will lose complete faith in them, if they have not already.
If they fail then the fact must be faced that the present incumbents in the national team are not good enough and the selectors will have to embark on a searching talent drive.
I know this cuts right across my previous views, as frequently I have emphasised that the majority of the batsmen in particular who tackled Transvaal, the Australians and Natal are the best available in the way of technical competence and experience.
These last qualifications still apply, as over the seasons Frangos, Gripper, Ullyett, Pithey and Bland have individually thrilled us with their strokeplay and run-making ability. Pithey and Bland have Test centuries to their credit and the other three have at times played well up to international standard.
But the brilliance, the consistency and the technical know-how of these men have flashed all too rarely this season and as a result Rhodesia languish at the bottom of the A Section. One cannot excuse our batsmen any longer.
One does not ask for miracles, just creditable consistency from batsmen who have been around long enough to know what the game is all about.
It must be a long time since Rhodesia suffered successively a ten-wicket (virtually an innings) defeat, and eight-wicket defeat and then going under by an innings and six runs.
Where does the fault lie? The statistics elsewhere on this page give the answer.
They indicate that Jack du Preez, a bowler, has scored as many runs as Nick Frangos and has the best average (30.8) in the team.
One can allow only so much for bad wickets, wickets that suit the opposition, and bad luck. Haven't we allowed this time and again?
After the Transvaal game I said the team needed psychiatry and not surgery. Rhodesia promptly lost by eight wickets to the Australians.
I said after the Australian match that our batsmen must have learned their lesson after experiencing the powerful visiting spin attack.
So they crashed against Mike Procter's pace, the fair-haired Natal man taking 7-23 and 4-54.
Admittedly that wicket last Sunday was a proverbial 'pig', yet it was bowler du Preez who made the first innings top score of 28 more than twice as much as any recognised batsman.
Then he was undefeated with 76 in the second innings, his runs being accumulated in a most sensible fashion on a good batting wicket. The next best batsman was Frangos, who struggled to 31 and then tossed away his wicket.
And this is the most annoying thing about the Rhodesian batting. If it was not a good ball which got a player (the one from Trimborn in the first innings to Gripper was the best of the match) it was carelessness at the crease.
Silly flicks, often to long hops, leaden feet, rash judgement, perhaps even over-anxiety; these have been the root causes.
And yet, to complicate matters, several have briefly revealed their true class. Ullyett's 42 against Transvaal, 87 in a second-class match against the Australians and then his 60 in the first-class game indicated that the talent has not waned completely.
Bland clobbered Simpson's men for 94 in that minor Bulawayo fixture and even looked good momentarily while collecting 18 against Natal. Then h went to yet another indiscretion - and so this world star, one of the most lauded cricketers in the game has a first-class average for his country this season of 18.
Pithey has played the strokes, looked comfortable and won applause for his tenacity, yet he is not getting the runs, 67 being his highest score in six innings.
Are these man trying too hard? Do they worry too much when they get to the crease? Maybe they should relax, forget cricket between now and the return Transvaal match and then go out at Wanderers next weekend with a new zest for the game.
Perhaps they should study more closely the attitude of colleague Jack du Preez. What a tonic this man is when he goes in to bat or takes the ball for yet another spell of marathon spin bowling.
The most comforting sight in Rhodesian cricket today is to see this small man with the schoolboy appearance strolling to the wicket with the confidence of a Bradman, treating every ball on its merit, playing sensibly within his limited stroke range and then standing nonchalantly, leaning on his bat, hand on hip as if to say, ``You don't frighten me, chum.''
And when his skipper turns him into a stock bowler (imagine, a leg-spinner a stock bowler) this courageous cricketer whips the ball down for over after over, ignoring what punishment he occasionally gets, pushing that ball through, hunting out his victim and coming up with figures like 3-113 against Transvaal, 6-95 against the Australians and 6-128 against Natal.
Here indeed is a Rhodesian cricketer who has his thinking right. At 24 he has 'arrived' as a powerful force in Southern African cricket. And he admits he is as confident as he looks. He told me the other night:
``The spinning course I attended in Pretoria in September did me a power of good. After listening to Trevor Goddard I saw much more in the game than I had before.
``As a result I have subsequently been able to go into any match with confidence. This confidence in turn gave me rhythm.
``That, in fact, is the key to what success I have had this season. Before, I used to worry at times about my run-up. Now, I don't. I just slip automatically into a groove and stay there.
``Even if I take a hammering at first - like I did in my first and loose spell against Natal - it doesn't worry me. I know it will come right. I don't start panicking like I might have done before.
``And the fact that my skipper, Tony Pithey, has to give me a lot of work to do these days suits me. In previous seasons, because Joe Partridge and Godfrey Lawrence were the stock men, I often only bowled a few overs at a time.''
Talking to du Preez was refreshing. If that Sydney greengrocer who once expounded the quality of his cabbages by shouting that they had hearts as ``big as Freddie Brown's'' were in business in these parts I am sure he would switch the metaphor to du Preez. But back to the main issue.
As I said at the beginning, if the Rhodesian team fails in the next fortnight the talent hunt must begin in earnest.
The talent is there, even if it is among the teenagers and not so much in the senior leagues.
Look how Natal, blessed for the years with the greatness of McGlew, McLean, Adcock and Goddard quickly looked around when they went or waned, and had the courage to try out the Procter brothers, Richards, Irvine, Henwood, and to move several others around the 20 and under mark into their 'B' side.
They are giving youth every encouragement and the policy is paying off.
Rhodesia may well have to do the same, even if a few famous heads roll in the process.
PARKER, ULLYETT OUT OF THE RHODESIA TEAM
Tuesday 29 November 1966
There have been two last-minute withdrawals from the Rhodesian side to play Currie Cup matches against Transvaal at Johannesburg starting on Saturday and against Eastern Province at Port Elizabeth the following weekend.
Eddie Parker, the Bulawayo player who was injured in a car accident a week ago yesterday, last night discovered that he had severed two tendons in his right wrist and would be unable to play.
His place is being taken by the Salisbury Sports Club seam bowler Peter MacKenzie.
The other casualty is Rob Ullyett. He injured his left shoulder when diving for a catch in the Rhodesian match against the Australians. Last night he declared himself unfit to tour.
His place is being taken by Ian Haig, described by our cricket correspondent Len Brown as ``one of the greatest hearted cricketers ever to put on a Rhodesian cap.''
IT'S UP TO RHODESIAN BATSMEN TO RESTORE LOST FAITH
Sportlight by Len Brown (Friday 2 December 1966)
The Rhodesian cricket team leaves by air this morning for Johannesburg, on the start of a two-match Currie Cup cricket tour, embracing matches against Transvaal at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, starting tomorrow, and Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth. And Tony Pithey's side have not just two cricket matches to get through . . . they have the job of restoring some faith of the cricket fans in this country in their team, which has had rather a trying time so far this season . . . to put it mildly.
Just to recap . . . Rhodesia has been beaten by Transvaal (ten wickets), by the Australians (eight wickets) and Natal (an innings and six runs). And in the only other 'big' match of the season to date, we were beaten on the first innings by Australia in that pipe-opener game at the start of their tour, when they played a Matabeleland XI in Bulawayo.
For some years now, Rhodesia has been known as a 'second-innings' batting side, and this somewhat uncomplimentary title . . . it gives the impression can't, or won't, get their heads down . . . is borne out by the fact that in the four matches mentioned, only once did the side score more runs in the first innings than in the second . . . against Transvaal.
Granted, three of those four matches have been played at the Police Ground, on pitches which have been entirely out of character in that they have favoured spin bowling to a far greater degree than has ever been the case since the first 'senior' game was played there some eight years ago, when Ian Craig's Australians were the visitors.
But when all is said and done, the fact remains that there is a lack of solidity and determination in the batting this season, which has been the side's undoing on several occasions.
Perhaps this will be rectified this weekend on the perfect batting pitch which is, and has been for years, a feature of the Wanderers ground . . . if the Rhodesian batsmen can't make runs there, they'll not make them anywhere this season, seems to be the general feeling.
Rob Ullyett's absence from the tour is unfortunate, for he's enjoying one of his best seasons, and there's a maturity and richness to his batting which has made him just about the best and most consistent batsman in the country.
But if there's one man who'll be trying his darnedest at the Wanderers this weekend it will be Ullyett's understudy . . . that great hearted little battler Ian Haig . . . last time I saw him bat there, with Rhodesia up the creek to the bowling of Ken Walter and Hugh Tayfield, he took the latter by the scruff of the neck, thumped him soundly, and wound up with an exhilarating 74.
One six he hit during that innings was one of the hardest struck balls I've ever seen . . . I'll swear it was still in its upward flight when it hit the top of the sight screen!
Another in the side we'll be holding thumbs for is seamer Peter MacKenzie, Eddie Parker's replacement. There's no doubt that, but for a series of physical misfortunes, Pete would have played for Rhodesia a couple of seasons ago . . . but just when the time was ripe for his selection, he either wound up in hospital . . . or had to cry off from cricket through injury.
This is his big chance . . . and there won't be anyone trying harder in Johannesburg, or enjoying his cricket more, than young master Mackenzie.
And I'll warrant not only Rhodesians will be interested to see how Jackie du Preez fares on that pluperfect batting strip . . . with his leg spinners.
. . . the speed with which he is pitched into the Springbok line-up could well depend on how he performs on that Wanderers pitch this weekend . . . and how I'd love to be there to see him at work.
GREAT BARLOW 212 THEN RHODESIA REEL (Johannesburg, Saturday)
Sunday Mail, 4 December 1966
Springbok batsman Eddie Barlow loves taking runs off Rhodesia. Today was no exception, when he rattled up the highest score of his career (212) and saved Transvaal from humiliation at the Wanderers in their Currie Cup match.
Lucky for the home team that Barlow was in form, because without him they would have been in dire trouble.
As it was, Bacher's men made 367, and then sent Rhodesia reeling with 11 for two when bad light stopped play.
Barlow's innings, among other things, was his highest in first-class cricket, reassuring both himself and South Africa about his form for the forthcoming Test series against Australia.
Scored in six minutes over five hours and including 33 fours, it was his third double century, surpassing his 209 against an Australian XI in Perth three seasons ago and his 201 in the fourth Test of that season in Adelaide.
It also was the highest innings in Currie Cup cricket by a Transvaal batsman against Rhodesia, beating Eric Rowan's 176 in the 1950/51 season.
But for Barlow the day would certainly have belonged to Rhodesia. Transvaal won the toss and batted first, but when they reached 62 for three, with Len Weinstein, Ali Bacher and Tiger Lance out, they must have wished that they had chosen to field.
In the first couple of hours Springbok seamer Joe Partridge gained a fair amount of lift in an admirable spell of 12 overs, which showed that he is far from finished.
With three of their best batsmen gone it seemed probable that Transvaal would end up with a total far from sufficient on wicket which generally favours the bat decisively.
It was here that Barlow - not to mention a consistently easing wicket - held up Rhodesia, putting on 92 in 56 minutes for the fourth wicket with Raymond White and 84 with Don Mackay-Coghill for the sixth wicket.
Barlow has been struggling to perfect his timing this season, but once he had passed his first 50 in 105 minutes, he was in command. His second 50 came in an hour, the third in 75 minutes and the fourth in 52 minutes.
It was Rhodesia's misfortune that they should have encountered him in this form and mood. They deserved better and thee was some fine bowling from left-arm seamer Huntsman Williams, whose sharp swing in to the bat caused a great deal of discomfort, and Jack du Preez, who bowled accurately and intelligently on a pitch that offered him little encouragement.
The fielding also earned praise, with Colin Bland always prominent.
The start of the Rhodesian innings was disastrous. With the fourth ball of the first over Gary Watson had Nick Frangos caught at silly square leg, and with the fourth ball of the second Mackay-Coghill clean bowled John Wallace.
To make matters even more exciting Tony Pithey cut the first ball he received straight to gully, but White put down the catch.
Thereafter he and Colin Bland batted solidly and dependably until play was called off.
RHODESIA DEPENDS ON BLAND, PITHEY TO SAVE SITUATION (Johannesburg, Sunday)
Monday 5 December 1966
Rhodesia, 11 for two wickets in reply to Transvaal's first innings total of 367, face a considerable task when their Currie Cup cricket match is continued at the Wanderers here tomorrow, and the burden lies on the shoulders of Colin Bland and Tony Pithey.
Transvaal are in a commanding position but the situation could so easily have been reversed, with Rhodesia in a match-winning command by the close of the first day's play on Saturday, had it not been for Eddie Barlow.
Barlow, whose good scores this season have been more the product of experience and resolution than form, was less adventurous in the early stages than usual but, once he had passed his first 50, he took complete command of the attack.
Through all this the Rhodesian bowling and fielding, both notably well handled by Tony Pithey, never wilted and they gained some measure of their just reward when Transvaal, now seeming likely to make at least 400, lost their last three wickets for 13 runs after tea.
Main interest in the Rhodesian attack centred around the form of Jackie du Preez, a candidate for the Springbok Test teams this season. On a pitch that offered him little encouragement his figures of two for 73 in 28 overs reflected good control and a well disguised googly which had several batsmen scrambling unhappily.
The start of the Rhodesian innings was little short of sensational. Nick Frangos took two from the third ball of the innings, then turned a nastily lifting ball from Gary Watson straight to silly square leg.
Don Mackay-Coghill, with the tenth ball of the innings, clean bowled Wallace with a magnificent inswinger, and Rhodesia were two for two.
They should have been two for three, for Pithey nudged the first ball he received straight to White but the catch was put down.
So through competent batting as they got behind the line of flight, Bland and Pithey took the score to 11 for two when bad light, followed by rain, brought a halt to play.
Rhodesia face a testing task today but, with Bland and Pithey there, they could well do to Transvaal precisely what Barlow did to them.
RHODESIA TAKES A THRASHING FROM TRANSVAAL (Johannesburg, Monday)
Tuesday 6 December 1966
Rhodesia suffered their second big defeat at the hands of Transvaal this season when they twice collapsed dismally against pace and seam at the Wanderers here today to go down by an innings and 60 runs.
Beaten by ten wickets in the opening Currie Cup match of the season at Salisbury, Rhodesia fared even less happily in the match which ended today with a day and 115 minutes to spare.
Starting play today 11 for two in reply to Transvaal's first-innings total of 367, Rhodesia were all out for 140 and, following on, for 167.
Transvaal's huge victory was largely due to Eddie Barlow, the Springbok opening batsman, whose 212 rescued Transvaal from a threatening position in their innings, by the attack spearheaded by Don Mackay-Coghill and by some rash strokes from the Rhodesian batsmen.
Mackay-Coghill's bowling, the most productive of his first-class career, shattered both Rhodesian innings but one cannot minimise the contributions of the visiting batsmen to their own downfall.
There was nothing in the wicket to justify Rhodesia's double failure and Transvaal could not but help noting their vulnerability to pace, seam and swing.
Atholl McKinnon, who bowled Transvaal to victory in Salisbury, was given only two overs in Rhodesia's first innings and leg spinner Neville Reilly had only seven balls in the 41.1 overs of the innings. Not a single ball of the 43 overs in the second innings was bowled by a spinner.
Rhodesia's first innings would have been very much more calamitous but for a lusty last-wicket stand of 46 between Joe Partridge and Huntsman Williams, and the second innings was notable for a bold, often risky, 58 by Jackie du Preez who hit eight fours in his 102 minutes at the wicket.