Rhodesian first-class cricket in 1975/76Captain: Brian Davison
Rhodesia had another mixed season, finishing fourth in the Currie Cup table and gaining two creditable victories against two heavy defeats. Time just failed to allow them victory over Western Province at home, which would have lifted them to second place in the table.
Mike Procter was fit to play again after his serious knee injury of the previous season, but only as a batsman and occasional off-spinner. In only two matches, however, did he display his best batting form. The selectors decided to keep to Brian Davison as captain, as he had taken over during Procter's absence. This was to be Procter's final season for Rhodesia before returning to Natal, and there was a feeling that his services had not been fully valued by some members of the Rhodesia Cricket Union and that they could have done more to keep him.
The season began with another tour by the International Wanderers, who were captained by Glenn Turner; this was to be their last visit to the country. A narrow Rhodesian victory in Bulawayo was followed by a more comprehensive defeat in Salisbury. Davison showed good form in these matches, but rarely did well in the Currie Cup programme.
The Currie Cup began promisingly with an evenly-balanced draw against Natal; in the next match they made Transvaal follow on but were unable to bowl them out a second time. As was so often the case, the Currie Cup tours brought more bad than good results, with heavy defeats by Western Province and Natal. However, fine bowling atoned for weak batting as they narrowly scraped through to a one-wicket victory against Transvaal. The match against Eastern Province was a high-scoring draw on a perfect pitch.
Then came the narrow failure to beat Western Province, and the season finished with another fine victory over Eastern Province at Bulawayo. This time Jack Heron was the hero, taking the team through to reach a difficult target with a superb century, after they had been behind for most of the match.
This was Heron's season, as he showed brilliant form throughout. He had played in only five matches as a middle-order batsman over the past eight seasons and done little, but now he found his confidence and outstanding form. He replaced Martin Benkenstein, dropped after two poor matches despite having played promisingly as an opener during the previous season. He was helped by beginning the season with a Gillette Cup match against the weak Border attack and, opening the innings, found his confidence with a powerful century. He never looked back, and at the end of the season was chosen twice for representative South African teams against the International Wanderers. He was never to strike such form again, however, although he played fine innings intermittently over the next few years. He had a tendency to play too much across the line and to score predominantly on the leg side, which bowlers found they could exploit unless he was at the top of his form.
Rhodesia alternated between Robin Jackman, not quite as good as he had been in the past perhaps through playing too much cricket year-round, and the West Indian all-rounder John Shepherd as their overseas professional. The main need was for a pace bowler but, while Shepherd was not quite in Jackman's class here, he was a fine batsman with the ability to be devastating. But neither quite showed the consistency desirable.
Heron topped the batting easily, with 747 runs at 49.80, while Procter, despite inconsistency, scored 486 runs at 36.00. Duncan Fletcher, opening the innings with Heron, batted consistently for 498 runs at 29.29, while Davison's 486 runs averaged 28.59. Stuart Robertson, relieved of the burden of opening the innings, batted consistently but rarely made the big scores he was capable of, with 419 runs at 32.23.
Paddy Clift was by some way the best bowler of the season, just before he started a professional contract with Leicestershire. His 37 wickets cost 22.89, but he had little real support. No other regular bowler averaged better than 30. Robin Jackman's 15 wickets cost 31.40, while Vince Hogg, winning a regular place for the first time until dropped at the end of the season, took 15 wickets at 30.46. Jackie du Preez, who became the first Rhodesian to win a hundred caps during the season, took 21 wickets, but his average was 40.23. His bowling form never recovered, and this was his last season as a regular player. John Traicos also failed to make much impact, and Rhodesia's once-strong spin attack was no longer of much effect. Jimmy Mitchell, in the Transvaal for a year, could not fill that need. Duncan Fletcher, perhaps partly because he was now opening the batting, was much less effective than he had been the previous season.
The team also missed Peter Carlstein, who had temporarily retired at the end of the previous season. This was also to be the final season for wicket-keeper and aggressive batsman Howie Gardiner.
In the Gillette Cup, Rhodesia recorded easy victories over the B Section teams Border and Northern Transvaal, but then some incredibly poor batting lead to heavy defeat at the hands of Eastern Province.
CURRIE CUP TABLE, 1975/76 Bonus Points P W L D Bat Bowl Points (10) Natal 8 3 2 3 19 29 78 Eastern Province 8 2 3 3 19 33 72 Western Province 8 3 2 3 15 23 68 RHODESIA 8 2 2 4 19 26 65 Transvaal 8 1 2 5 18 27 55
At Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo; 27, 28, 29 September. RHODESIA 244 (S D Robertson 39, B F Davison 66, D A G Fletcher 31, H A B Gardiner 33; P H Edmonds 4/65) and 230 (S D Robertson 54, K Tattersall 40, B F Davison 78; C M Old 5/38, P H Edmonds 4/93). INTERNATIONAL WANDERERS 221 (G R J Roope 77, C M Old 36*; A J Traicos 4/67, J H du Preez 3/61) and 249 (G M Turner 74, G R J Roope 63; D A G Fletcher 4/78). Rhodesia won by 4 runs.
At Police B Ground, Salisbury; 4, 5, 6 October. RHODESIA 210 (S D Robertson 38, D A G Fletcher 70; J A Snow 4/36, P H Edmonds 3/66) and 181 (P B Clift 64; C M Old 4/47, J N Shepherd 3/57). INTERNATIONAL WANDERERS 284/9 dec (G R J Roope 43, R W Tolchard 72*, P H Edmonds 73, J A Snow 36*; A J Traicos 3/68) and 108/1 (B Wood 56, G M Turner 43*). International Wanderers won by nine wickets.
At Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo; 8, 9, 10 November. NATAL 368 (B A Richards 159, H R Fotheringham 71, K M Hosken 58*; V R Hogg 6/78) and 246/4 dec (B A Richards 69, A J S Smith 55, R A Woolmer 66, G A Katz 35*). RHODESIA 334/6 dec (J G Heron 51, S D Robertson 42, M J Procter 84, B F Davison 38, J H du Preez 32*, H A B Gardiner 37*; P H J Trimborn 4/71) and 73/1 (D A G Fletcher 42*). Match drawn.
At Police B Ground, Salisbury; 29, 30 November, 1 December. RHODESIA 387/7 dec (D A G Fletcher 32, J G Heron 175, M J Procter 46, J N Shepherd 51). TRANSVAAL 197 (C E B Rice 58, A J Kourie 33, S J Cook 34; P B Clift 4/39, A J Traicos 3/40, J H du Preez 3/20) and 329/4 (D D Dyer 66, R K Muzzell 32, C E B Rice 93*, N G Featherstone 101). Match drawn.
At Cape Town; 5, 6, 8 December. RHODESIA 146/9 dec (J G Heron 47, B F Davison 30; D L Hobson 4/28) and 149 (D A G Fletcher 43, H A B Gardiner 38; J N Farrell 4/43). WESTERN PROVINCE 352/4 dec (A J Lamb 37, P N Kirsten 128*, A Bruyns 93, H M Ackerman 60). Western Province won by an innings and 57 runs.
At Port Elizabeth; 12, 13, 15 December. RHODESIA 293/3 dec )S D Robertson 136, M J Procter 121*) and 420/7 dec (J G Heron 136, D A G Fletcher 55, M J Procter 77, B F Davison 66, H A B Gardiner 35; S J Bezuidenhout 3/55). EASTERN PROVINCE 387/7 dec (S J Bezuidenhout 126, C P Wilkins 99, K S McEwan 54, D Bestall 45, P H Edmonds 30*; P B Clift 4/83) and 159/3 (C P Wilkins 65, K S McEwan 44). Match drawn.
At Johannesburg; 16, 17, 19 January. TRANSVAAL 144 (S J Cook 42; R D Jackman 5/52, P B Clift 4/44) and 133 (D D Dyer 37, W J van der Linden 31, B L Irvine 39; R D Jackman 3/37, P B Clift 4/34, D A G Fletcher 3/39). RHODESIA 152 (D R Neilson 4/31) and 126/9 (S D Robertson 39; D R Neilson 6/38). Rhodesia won by one wicket.
At Durban; 24, 25, (26) January. RHODESIA 158 (J G Heron 61; V A P van der Bijl 3/39, A R Lilley 3/27) and 83 (J G Heron 33; V A P van der Bijl 3/23, P H J Trimborn 4/17). NATAL 178 (A J S Smith 68; R D Jackman 3/46, V R Hogg 3/35, P B Clift 3/55) and 64/0 (B A Richards 35*). Natal won by ten wickets.
At Police B Ground, Salisbury; 7, 8, 9 February. RHODESIA 410/9 dec (B D Barbour 44, D B E Bawden 36, M J Procter 41, B F Davison 74, D A G Fletcher 43, J H du Preez 41, J N Shepherd 65; A B Nieuwoudt 4/87) and 120/7 (B D Barbour 32, J N Shepherd 33; D L Hobson 3/28, P D Swart 3/46). WESTERN PROVINCE 170/9 dec (E J Barlow 31, H M Ackerman 52, P N Kirsten 37; J H du Preez 3/56, J N Shepherd 3/34) and 374 (E J Barlow 104, A Bruyns 30, P N Kirsten 123, A J Lamb 31, P D Swart 37; J H du Preez 4/116, M J Procter 4/109). Match drawn.
At Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo; 21, 22, 23 February. EASTERN PROVINCE 290/9 dec (S J Bezuidenhout 115, K S McEwan 70; P B Clift 6/71) and 220 (C P Wilkins 40, K S McEwan 61, A L Wilmot 34; B Horton 7/76). RHODESIA 238 (D B E Bawden 40, D A G Fletcher 44; E Schmidt 4/67, P H Edmonds 3/60) and 274/8 (J G Heron 153, J N Shepherd 33; G S Cowley 3/63). Rhodesia won by two wickets.
GILLETTE CUP (60 overs)
At East London, 18 October. BORDER 235/9 (60 overs) (R Kent 70, R C Ontong 55; R D Jackman 3/45). RHODESIA 237/2 (49.2 overs) (J G Heron 148*, K Tattersall 46). Rhodesia won by eight wickets.
At Pretoria, 25 October. RHODESIA 221 (59.3 overs) (D A G Fletcher 42, S D Robertson 34, H A B Gardiner 41, R D Jackman 44; J D Sparks 3/32, W K Watson 4/47). NORTHERN TRANSVAAL 101 (H W Raath 31*; R D Jackman 3/18, J H du Preez 3/37). Rhodesia won by 118 runs.
At Port Elizabeth, 31 January. EASTERN PROVINCE 213 (51 overs) (S J Bezuidenhout 61, C P Wilkins 31, P H Edmonds 33; D A G Fletcher 4/69). RHODESIA 88 (36.5 overs) (D J Brickett 5/23). Eastern Province won by 125 runs.
It is intended in the future to produce full scorecards, and also much more information about all cricket in Rhodesia during this season. At present, the next entry in this section is for 1976/77