Cricket is the 2nd most popular sport after soccer. The history of Cricket started hundreds of years ago during the 16th century and has produced some greatest cricketers. The game originated in southern England but today is popular in Australasia, England, the Indian subcontinent, the West Indies and Southern Africa. Since its early days cricket has produced many legendary players and so the following list takes us through time and commemorates 10 of the best cricketers we’ve had over the years.
1. Michael Owen-Smith
Michael Owen-Smith was a South African cricketer and rugby player who played Test cricket for South Africa and captained the England rugby union team. Owen-Smith went to Diocesan College in Rondebosch and attended the University of Cape Town. He was an all-rounded athlete; he represented his school and university in cricket and rugby amongst other sports. Owen-Smith played cricket in 5 Tests in 1929 for South Africa, all during the tour of England, and was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1930. His son, Michael Owen-Smith, is a former South African journalist who is now the media manager for Cricket South Africa.
2. Neil Manthorp
Neil Manthorp is a South African writer and broadcaster based in Cape Town best known internationally for his coverage of cricket. He has covered more than 40 tours and 120 Test matches since South Africa’s return to international cricket and Zimbabwe’s elevation to Test status. He is a regular commentator for SABC radio and television and has also joined the host radio teams in West Indies, New Zealand, Australia and England. He writes for newspapers and magazines and recently completed his fifth book “The Proteas: 20 Years, 20 Landmark matches” marking the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s return to international cricket.
3. Graeme Pollock
Graeme Pollock is a former cricketer for South Africa and a member of a famous cricketing family. His international career was cut short at the age of 26 by the sporting boycott of South Africa, and all but one of his 23 Test matches being against England and Australia, the leading cricket nations of the day. Pollock received numerous awards and was voted South Africa’s Cricketer of the 20th Century in 1999, Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1966, and was selected in 2007 as the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World in 1967 and 1969.
4. Barry Richards
Barry Richards is a former South African batsman. He is considered one of South Africa’s most successful cricketers. Richards was a prolific scorer in county cricket for many years for Hampshire. He scored 2395 runs in his first season, 1968, more than anybody else in the country. From 1970, Richards established one of the most successful opening partnerships for that county, along with West Indian batsman Gordon Greenidge.
5. Mike Procter
Mike Procter is a former South African cricketer known for his fast bowling and hard hitting batting. He proved himself a colossal competitor in English first class cricket. Procter is the only man to make over 500 runs and take 50 wickets twice in a domestic South African season, in 1971–72 and 1972–73 when he took a record 59 wickets in eight Currie Cup games. In 1970 he entered the record books, to join the exalted company of Sir Donald Bradman and C.B. Fry, in scoring six successive first class centuries for Rhodesia. Procter played and captained South Africa in 1 unofficial “Test”.
6. Aubrey Faulkner
Aubrey Faulkner was a leading cricketer for South Africa for two decades. After playing in the Currie Cup without distinction, Faulkner came to the notice of the South African selectors when he scored a half century and took six wickets with his googlies to lead Transvaal to a surprise win over the touring 1905/06 MCC side.
7. Allan Donald
Allan Donald is a former South African cricketer and one of their most successful pace bowlers. In his prime, he was one of the best fast bowlers ever seen in Test cricket, reaching the top of the ICC Test rankings in 1998 and peaked with a top ICC ranking of 895 points the next year, the 25th best ranking ever. In ODIs, he reached 794 points in 1998, second place to his teammate Shaun Pollock, and the 28th best ranking ever. In the early 1990s, he was the only world-class bowler in the South African team.
8. Eddie Barlow
Eddie Barlow was a South African cricketer, an all rounder on the field. Barlow was born in Pretoria, Gauteng, and Eastern Province from 1959–60 to 1967–68 before moving to Western Province for the seasons from 1968–69 to 1980–81. He began bowling in first-class matches in 1960–61 when he was promoted to the main Gauteng side. Barlow hit his first century that season, 110 not out against North-Eastern Transvaal in the final match of the season, a match in which he also took five wickets. He toured England with the young Fezelas team in 1961; he was a last-minute replacement for David Pithey, who had had to withdraw. Opening the batting for the first time, Barlow hit 36, 22 and 110 in his two first-class matches.
9. Jacques Kallis
Jacques Kallis is a former South African cricketer, a right-handed batsman and right-arm fast-medium swing bowler. Kallis is regarded as one of the greatest of the game’s all-rounders. As of 2013 he was the only cricketer in the history of the game to score more than 11,000 runs and take 250 wickets in both one-day and Test match cricket. Kallis was named Leading Cricketer in the World in the 2008 Wisden for his performances in 2007 in addition to being the “ICC Test Player of the Year” and ICC Player of the Year in 2005. He is one of the few Test all-rounders whose Test batting average is over 50 and exceeds his Test bowling average by 20 or more.
Dudley Nourse was a South African Test cricketer and batsman, the son of batsman Arthur Dave Nourse. Nourse played 34 Test matches in his career of sixteen years. At the time of his retirement, he held the highest batting average of any South African batsman. He also captained his country in fifteen matches. As captain that he played what is describes as his most renowned innings. Against England in 1951 Nourse batted with a broken thumb, but scored 208 to win South Africa the game.