Norman Gordon 1911-2014 September 2, 2014

Oldest Test cricketer dies aged 103

ESPNcricinfo staff
15

Norman Gordon, the former South Africa fast bowler who was the world's oldest Test cricketer, has died aged 103. Gordon played all five Tests against England in 1938-39, including the famous Timeless Test in Durban that ended in a draw despite stretching for ten days.

Gordon, the first Test cricketer to have lived to the age of 100, died at his home in Johannesburg, where he has lived for over sixty years. He had spent parts of the last year in and out of hospital with renal problems but was in good health otherwise.

He was renowned for his fitness and athleticism during his playing days. He bowled 92.2 eight-ball overs during that timeless Test. He could play only five Tests because his career coincided with World War II. Gordon was the last surviving Test cricketer to have played before World War II.

Ali Bacher, the former CSA chief executive and Test player, paid tribute to Gordon. "He always had a smile on his face," he told ESPNcricinfo. "He had one common theme about his life: he always enjoyed the people he met, through cricket and through golf. He lived life to the full." Gordon was an honorary life member of the Houghton Golf Club and a regular visitor there for lunches and suppers.

Gordon lived in Hillbrow, close to the Johannesburg City Centre, which was a plush area in the 1970s and 1980s but had suffered neglect in the following decades. Despite the changes in the area, Gordon remained a popular figure among the residents.

"When I went to visit him I asked him whether he had ever been bothered by living there or felt unsafe," Bacher said. "He said no. He said there was only one occasion when he was bothered by someone at night but in general everybody knew him there and everybody loved him."

Bacher also recalled his memories of visiting Gordon's sports shop as a child and said the former fast bowler was popular with female fans.

"In the 1950s, Norman owned a sports shop in Eloff Street," Bacher said. "Every year my mother would take me there to buy a new bat. I used to look forward to those visits so much.

"Norman was very good-looking; he always had ladies after him. When I was interviewing him for SuperSport a few years ago, my mother-in-law, who is 98, fairly conservative and of very sound mind, went to my wife with a confession. She said that when she was 17 she had a crush on Gordon. So when I interviewed him I had to ask him whether he knew how popular he was with women. When I put it to him that the ladies seemed to really like him, he said, 'Oh yes, I know.'"

After his demise, another former South Africa fast bowler, Lindsay Tuckett, has become the oldest living Test cricketer.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on September 2, 2014, 16:28 GMT

    I had the privilege of interviewing Norman Gordon on the occasion of the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the Timeless Test in 1989 and 1999; unfortunately he was not able to talk to me in 2009, the 70th anniversary. Interestingly he told me that one of the players from the Test, Eric Dalton, during the match, because he lived in Durban was able to sleep at home the 12 days of the game, and on occasion he would wake up having a nightmare, screaming "HOWZATT?" and waking up his wife. I believe that SA batsman Ken Viljoen had two haircuts during the game. Gordon said he would always remember how humid it was and his trousers would stick to him while he bowled. He took 20 wickets in the 5 Tests, the most by both sides, at a high average of 40.35, and his figures for his last Test were 37-7-82-0 and 55.2-10-174-1 (eight-ball overs). He was unable to tour England in 1940 because of the war where he would have been a success. Within 6 months of the game the second world war broke out.

  • on September 3, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    We salute Sir!

  • Matinhashmi on September 3, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    RIP, Sir Norman. You played timeless, you live timeless. Hate-off to you.

  • on September 3, 2014, 5:46 GMT

    RIP Norman. You were a fine man.

  • on September 3, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    RIP Norman. May you find peace. .......

  • Cpt.Meanster on September 3, 2014, 2:01 GMT

    Well done on your ton sir. RIP !

  • on September 3, 2014, 0:19 GMT

    R.I.P ...Norman

  • CrackerDaddy on September 2, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    RIP Mr.Norman...from a Sri Lankan Fan

  • on September 2, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    Ted English, who played for Hampshire in the 1890s, appeared on TV on his hundredth birthday. He opened his shirt and showed the mark left by a ball from the great Surrey fast bowler Tom Richardson which had hit him some 70 years before. It was still vivid.

  • on September 2, 2014, 13:00 GMT

    RIP Norman........................................

  • on September 2, 2014, 16:28 GMT

    I had the privilege of interviewing Norman Gordon on the occasion of the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the Timeless Test in 1989 and 1999; unfortunately he was not able to talk to me in 2009, the 70th anniversary. Interestingly he told me that one of the players from the Test, Eric Dalton, during the match, because he lived in Durban was able to sleep at home the 12 days of the game, and on occasion he would wake up having a nightmare, screaming "HOWZATT?" and waking up his wife. I believe that SA batsman Ken Viljoen had two haircuts during the game. Gordon said he would always remember how humid it was and his trousers would stick to him while he bowled. He took 20 wickets in the 5 Tests, the most by both sides, at a high average of 40.35, and his figures for his last Test were 37-7-82-0 and 55.2-10-174-1 (eight-ball overs). He was unable to tour England in 1940 because of the war where he would have been a success. Within 6 months of the game the second world war broke out.

  • on September 3, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    We salute Sir!

  • Matinhashmi on September 3, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    RIP, Sir Norman. You played timeless, you live timeless. Hate-off to you.

  • on September 3, 2014, 5:46 GMT

    RIP Norman. You were a fine man.

  • on September 3, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    RIP Norman. May you find peace. .......

  • Cpt.Meanster on September 3, 2014, 2:01 GMT

    Well done on your ton sir. RIP !

  • on September 3, 2014, 0:19 GMT

    R.I.P ...Norman

  • CrackerDaddy on September 2, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    RIP Mr.Norman...from a Sri Lankan Fan

  • on September 2, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    Ted English, who played for Hampshire in the 1890s, appeared on TV on his hundredth birthday. He opened his shirt and showed the mark left by a ball from the great Surrey fast bowler Tom Richardson which had hit him some 70 years before. It was still vivid.

  • on September 2, 2014, 13:00 GMT

    RIP Norman........................................

  • on September 2, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    May u rest in peace n all cricket lovers bow to him amen moize

  • on September 2, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    R.I.P Norman

  • Haleos on September 2, 2014, 9:32 GMT

    RIP Norman. May you find peace. Cricinfo should try to find a video of his playing days if possible.

  • on September 2, 2014, 9:04 GMT

    Read the last part of the article and you'llsee

  • boredkumar on September 2, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    who is the oldest living test player now?

  • boredkumar on September 2, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    who is the oldest living test player now?

  • on September 2, 2014, 9:04 GMT

    Read the last part of the article and you'llsee

  • Haleos on September 2, 2014, 9:32 GMT

    RIP Norman. May you find peace. Cricinfo should try to find a video of his playing days if possible.

  • on September 2, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    R.I.P Norman

  • on September 2, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    May u rest in peace n all cricket lovers bow to him amen moize

  • on September 2, 2014, 13:00 GMT

    RIP Norman........................................

  • on September 2, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    Ted English, who played for Hampshire in the 1890s, appeared on TV on his hundredth birthday. He opened his shirt and showed the mark left by a ball from the great Surrey fast bowler Tom Richardson which had hit him some 70 years before. It was still vivid.

  • CrackerDaddy on September 2, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    RIP Mr.Norman...from a Sri Lankan Fan

  • on September 3, 2014, 0:19 GMT

    R.I.P ...Norman

  • Cpt.Meanster on September 3, 2014, 2:01 GMT

    Well done on your ton sir. RIP !