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Full name Walter Bafana Masimula
Born October 23, 1975, Alexandra, Johannesburg, Transvaal
Died April 19, 2002, Guildford, Surrey, England (aged 26 years 178 days)
Major teams Gauteng
Also known as Black Express
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm fast
|List A span||1998-2001|
Masimula Walter Bafana, died in his sleep on April 19, 2002 in Guildford. He was only 26, and had recently arrived in England to play for Brook in the Surrey Championship and coach at King Edward's School, Witley. Surrey was far removed from his humble beginnings in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra where, nicknamed "Black Express", he was a jewel in South African cricket's development programme. He charged in and bowled fast, distinctly so at times. Ali Bacher, the country's cricket supremo, took him under his wing and arranged for him to attend his old school, King Edward; Fred Trueman and Ray Lindwall were among those who went to Alexandra's dusty nets to admire and advise the teenage speedster. At a time when age-group representative teams were almost exclusively white, he played for Transvaal (now Gauteng) at national cricket weeks from 13 onwards, and was one of six development programme players, among them Makhaya Ntini, in the Under-19 side that visited England in 1995. That tour, he said, "taught me tough lessons and it pointed out to me that there was still lots of hard work to be done". By the time Walter made his first-class debut, for Gauteng in 1998-99, he was relying on line and length rather than raw speed. And when he made headlines, it was because of race, not pace. After black administrators criticised the selection of an all-white Northerns/Gauteng XI to play England in November 1999, Rudi Bryson was forced to stand down from the team and Masimula came in. He took two for 12 in ten overs in England's second innings. His 18 first-class games, mostly for Gauteng, produced 33 wickets at 26.90, with a best of four for 35 against Eastern Province at Johannesburg. "He was a great guy," said the Gauteng captain Clive Eksteen, "a wholehearted competitor and a pleasure to have around."
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