South African cricket March 1, 2004

South African cricketer Lorrie Wilmot dies

Wisden Cricinfo staff

The South African cricketer Lorrie Wilmot, who played 147 matches in a first-class career that spanned 28 years, has died in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, after apparently taking his own life.

Wilmot, who was described by friends and colleagues as larger-than-life, was one of the lost generation of South African cricketers, denied the chance to play Test cricket by the country's sporting isolation during the Apartheid era. He was selected to tour England in 1970, but when that trip was cancelled for political reasons, he never got another chance.

With no international honours to compete for, Wilmot threw himself into provincial cricket throughout the 1960s and '70s. He went on to captain Eastern Province and also played for Border. David Emslie, the chief executive of Eastern Province Cricket, grew up with Wilmot in the village of Salem near Grahamstown. "I've known him all my life," he said. "He was a hugely respected cricketer and a larger-than-life character." He was also renowned as one of the biggest hitters in the game, and once belted the Kiwi offspinner John Sparling for a six that carried some 120 metres.

But Wilmot's life after cricket had been an unhappy one, and in March 2003 he was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl. Mali Govender, a police spokesperson for the Grahamstown area, said it appeared that Wilmot had shot himself. His body was reportedly found by a neighbour, with a suicide note nearby, and though an inquest will be conducted, no foul play was suspected. Wilmot was thought to have been alone at the time of his death.

He scored 7687 runs at 32.02 in his long career, with 12 centuries and a highest score of 222 not out.