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PARTRIDGE, JOSEPH TITUS (JOE), who died in tragic circumstances at his native Bulawayo on June 7, 1988, aged 55, made a major contribution to the success of T. L. Goddard's South African side in Australia in 1963-64. He and Peter Pollock, opening the bowling, took 25 wickets each in the five Tests, the most for either country in a series drawn 1-1; but whereas Pollock's wickets came primarily from his pace, Partridge, right-arm medium-fast, relied more on accuracy, stamina and swing. His stock ball was the in-swinger, which he could straighten off the pitch and occasionally cut away to the slips, but months of practice had also given him an out-swinger.
Bespectacled and strongly built, he was a willing competitor, even on the hottest days, and in fourteen first-class matches in Australia and New Zealand that season he took 63 wickets at 26.30. Figures of four for 108 on a well-grassed pitch in the Melbourne Test showed what he could achieve and he followed this with four for 88 and five for 123 at Sydney, where before the Test series he had taken five for 75 and four for 42 in the state game.
At Adelaide, where South Africa won by ten wickets to level the series, he managed only one wicket, as he had on his début at Brisbane, but back at Sydney he relished the heavy atmosphere and took seven for 91 from 31.1 eight-ball overs in Australia's first innings of the final Test. Four for 51 at Dunedin and six for 86 in 40 overs at Auckland were his significant performances in the three Tests in New Zealand.
Partridge first played for Rhodesia in the Currie Cup as a nineteen year old in 1951-52, and in subsequent seasons he steadily established himself. Figures of six for 26 against a visiting Surrey side and an analysis of 12.5-8-9-7 against Border at Bulawayo, contributing to 32 wickets at 20.03 in 1959-60, could not persuade South Africa's selectors to send him to England in 1960, where the conditions would have encouraged his method. But there could be no ignoring his 53 wickets at 13.98 in 1961-62 and 64 at 16.62 in 1962-63. The Australasian tour followed, but his triumph was short-lived. Against England in 1964-65 his six wickets in three Tests cost 293 runs, and omission from the Fifth Test brought his brief international career to an end.
In eleven Test matches he had taken 44 wickets at 31.20. He was now 33. Two more seasons with Rhodesia took his aggregate in the Currie Cup to 195 wickets at 18.80 and his record in 77 first-class matches to 376 at 20.80. His best return was eight for 69, followed by six for 32 in the second innings, at Salisbury in 1961-62 when Rhodesia beat Natal for the first time. A limited batsman, he scored 523 runs at 9.17 and held 21 catches.