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Full name Pieter Gerhard Vintcent van der Bijl
Born October 21, 1907, Kenilworth, Cape Town, Cape Province
Died February 16, 1973, Kalk Bay, Cape Province (aged 65 years 118 days)
Major teams South Africa, Oxford University, Western Province
Batting style Right-hand bat
Fielding position Wicketkeeper
|Test debut||South Africa v England at Johannesburg, Dec 24-28, 1938 scorecard|
|Last Test||South Africa v England at Durban, Mar 3-14, 1939 scorecard|
The Cricketer obituary
Pieter van der Bijl was a cricketer who surprised his friends, and undoubtedly himself, by playing with distinction for his country after a modest University career. He was a very large man who, coming from Diocesan College, Rondebosch, to Brasenose College fast made his mark as a heavyweight boxer. In his last year, 1932, he played for Oxford at Lord's in a match that gave early echoes of the uproar caused by the fast short bowling that was being practised at times by Notts under the leadership of A. W. Carr. The slow-footed van der Bijl was an easy target for Kenneth Fames, and the echoes indeed at this distance of time seem literal ones as one recalls the deep noises, something between a grunt and a groan, which issued as he was hit painfully on the body. But though ponderous in style he lacked nothing in courage and application, and following consistent form for Western Province in the Currie Cup he was chosen for South Africa against England in the first Test of the 1938-39 series. Alan Melville, who had given him a Blue, was leading South Africa, and also playing in his first Test. Both distinguished themselves, especially in the `Timeless Test' at Durban, wherein van der Bijl made 125 and 97: with his old friend Melville he put on 131 for the fast wicket in the first innings, and with Bruce Mitchell 191 in the second. He scored 460 runs in the rubber, with an average of 51. The war marked the end of Pieter's cricket for he was badly wounded. Thereafter he devoted himself to teaching, being headmaster of the preparatory school of the famous 'Bishop's'. For a while he was a Test selector. Many a sporting visitor to the Cape will remember his warm hospitality and the deepest of laughs.
EW Swanton, The Cricketer
Pieter van der Bijl, who played for South Africa in all five Tests against England in 1938-39, died at Cape Town on February 16, aged 65. He won a Rhodes Scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he was awarded Blues for cricket and boxing, and represented his college as a shot-putter and at rugby. He eventually established himself as an opening batsman for Western Province in
1934-35, his career reaching a peak four years later when he scored 125 and 97 at Durban in the `Timeless Test'. 'It has always puzzled me what the meaning
of eternity is,' he said afterwards. `Now I have a good idea.' Serious wounds in Italy during the war ended his playing career, but he continued to serve the game as selector and administrator. Boon Wallace, President of the South African
Cricket Association, writes: "Down through the years Pieter was, to me, all
that cricket symbolised. To him cricket was more than a game - it was his very way of life. He lived as he had played his cricket; he was conscientious and painstaking, utterly loyal, generous, kindly, and forever encouraging those of lesser heart. He was a born leader, a captain courageous. Pieter played his own cricket when standards of ethics and sportmanship differed from those prevailing in the changing world of today. Entirely oblivious of his personal contribution
to the record books, he was the model of a true and dedicated sportsman and unwittingly this virtue rubbed off on all who played with and against him. Newlands will never be quite the same without him, but his indomitable spirit, his high ideals, and his unique influence on WP cricket will live on."
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