Full name Robert James Crisp
Born May 28, 1911, Calcutta (now Kolkata), Bengal, India
Died March 3, 1994, Colchester, Essex, England (aged 82 years 279 days)
Major teams Rhodesia, South Africa, Western Province, Worcestershire
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm fast
|Test debut||England v South Africa at Nottingham, Jun 15-18, 1935 scorecard|
|Last Test||South Africa v Australia at Durban, Feb 28-Mar 3, 1936 scorecard|
|First-class span||1929/30 - 1938|
Bob Crisp, DSO, MC, who died in Essex on March 3, 1994, aged 82, was one of the most extraordinary men ever to play Test cricket. His cricket, which is only a fraction of the story, was explosive enough: he is the only bowler to have taken four wickets in four balls twice. Born in Calcutta, he was educated in Rhodesia and, after taking nine for 64 for Western Province against Natal in 1933-34, which included his second set of four in four, was chosen for the South Africans' 1935 tour of England. He took 107 wickets on the tour at a brisk fast-medium, including five for 99 in the Old Trafford Test. Crisp played four further Tests against Australia in 1935-36 and appeared eight times for Worcestershire in 1938 without ever achieving a huge amount.
But it is astonishing that he ever found a moment for such a time-consuming game as cricket. He was essentially an adventurer -- he had just climbed Kilimanjaro when he got news that he was wanted for the 1935 tour -- with something of an attention span problem. Like other such characters, his defining moment came in the Second World War when he was an outstanding but turbulent tank commander, fighting his own personal war against better-armoured Germans in Greece and North Africa. He had six tanks blasted from under him in a month but carried on fighting and was awarded the DSO for outstanding ability and great gallantry. However, he annoyed authority so much that General Montgomery intervened personally and prevented him being given a Bar a year later; his second honour was downgraded to an MC. Crisp was mentioned in despatches four times before being invalided out in Normandy. The King asked if his bowling would be affected. "No, sire," he is alleged to have replied. "I was hit in the head."
Crisp never did play again and found that the tedium of peacetime presented him with a problem far harder than anything offered by the Germans. He was briefly a journalist for a succession of newspapers, and went back to South Africa where he founded the now firmly-established paper for blacks, Drum. But he wanted a magazine about tribal matters rather than something appealing to urban blacks and rapidly fell out with his proprietor. He returned to England, tried mink farming and, for an unusually long time by Crisp standards, worked as a leader-writer on the East Anglian Daily Times. While there he wrote two accounts of his war exploits, Brazen Chariots (1957) and The Gods Were Neutral (1960). Then he suddenly left and lived in a Greek hut for a year. Told he had incurable cancer, he spent a year walking round Crete, selling accounts to the Sunday Express. He died with a copy of the Sporting Life on his lap, reportedly having just lost a £20 bet, a risk-taker to the last. Crisp's 276 career wickets came at an average of only 19.88, but statistics are absurd for such a man.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Papua New Guinea's attractive team kit at the World T20 Qualifier, cool cap included, caught our attention. What's your favourite of them all?
On Sunday, Tillakaratne Dilshan became the 11th batsman to score 10,000-plus ODI runs. Here are the key numbers from his ODI career
Former Australia fast bowler Damien Fleming on bowling in thrilling World Cup semi-finals, mastering the subcontinent, and taking on Tendulkar
There is nothing stimulating in watching a television broadcast in which the players and commentators allow themselves to be remote-controlled by the BCCI
Also: the most runs and wickets after 30 Tests, and when England's batting and bowling record-holders played together
Since the beginning of 2012, Ian Bell averages 34.69 when batting in the top six; among regular top-order batsmen, only Shane Watson has a lower average
Death of a Gentleman exposes how neo-liberal economics threatens the game, while also hinting at worse lying beneath the surface, leaving you feeling disillusioned and angry
Should he be dropped from the one-day squad to Zimbabwe, it will be the latest chapter in the wicketkeeper's strained relations with the authorities in particular
There's currency in the idea that a captain's failure with the bat dulls his decision-making powers and creates a destructive atmosphere in the dressing room