CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1936

Jock Cameron

Horace Brakenridge Cameron, one of the finest wicket-keepers South Africa has produced and a courageous, hard-hitting batsman, died on November 2, 1935, shortly after his return home with the victorious team that toured England. Born at Port Elizabeth on July 5, 1905, he was in his 31st year when enteric fever proved fatal after only a few days' illness. Educated at Hilton College, Natal, and Jeppe High School, Johannesburg, Cameron began to take a keen interest in cricket when no more than ten years old. He received plenty of encouragement at school to develop skill in keeping wicket, and after getting a place in the Transvaal eleven he soon came right to the front both as batsman and wicket-keeper. Following his debut against the Hon. L. H. Tennyson's team in 1924-25, he was quick to establish himself as a potential Test player. He made his first hundred in important cricket--132 against Eastern Province--in 1927, and selected the same season to play for South Africa he took part, with success, in all five games against England. Coming to this country in 1929 when he began the tour with a century against Worcestershire, Cameron fully lived up to his reputation as a wicket-keeper--one of his best performances was in the game with Somerset when he caught six batsmen and stumped one. In all matches during that visit he scored 1,077 runs for an average of 32.63.

When batting in the Test match at Lord's, he met with a nasty accident. A good length ball from Larwood rose abruptly and struck Cameron on the head, rendering him unconscious; the effects of the injury prevented him playing again for three weeks or so. When the M.C.C. team went to South Africa in 1930-31, Cameron was appointed captain for the Fourth Test Match--the third change in the leadership in four games. He marked the occasion with a splendid fighting innings of 69 not out, and at the close South Africa needed 37 runs to win with three wickets in hand. The cares of captaincy, however, appeared to weigh heavily upon him when he led the South African team in Australia the following winter. Although he maintained a high standard in wicket-keeping, he was nothing like so successful with the bat, his ten innings in the Test matches producing no more than 155 runs and his aggregate for the whole tour being only 642. Last summer, on his second visit to England when he acted as vice-captain, Cameron stood out as one of the great personalities of the South African team. Most memorable of the many fine innings he played was that at Lord's when by his plucky batting he demoralised England bowlers who before he went in had got rid of four batsmen for 98 runs. Cameron's powerful driving and pulling captured the imagination of everyone; in the course of an hour and three-quarters he scored 90 out of 126. Against Yorkshire, he hit one over from Verity for 30 runs and at Scarborough he finished the tour with another superb display of joyous batting in an innings of 160.

In no sense could Cameron be described as a mere slogger. He combined fine technique with calculated hitting; when necessary he could adapt his game and discipline himself to the need for more restrained methods. Always a firm believer in making the bat hit the ball, he came down much harder on it than the average batsman. Blessed with power of wrist and forearms, he could drive and pull without appearing to use very much effort. In the Tests last summer he scored 306 runs (average 38) and for all games his aggregate was 1,655 and his average 41.37.

Cameron, for all his fearless hitting, will be chiefly remembered for his high place among wicket-keepers not only of South Africa but in his generation. His stumping of a batsman has been likened to the nonchalant gesture of a smoker flicking the ash from a cigarette--an apt simile of the speed and art of his deeds. Cameron's concentration upon his job was always evident; some of his stumping efforts dazzled the eyesight. To place him second only as a wicket-keeper to Oldfield is not undue praise. He was neither flamboyant nor noisy and he took the ball cleanly; in fact, his style may be described as the perfection of ease and rapidity without unnecessary show. Last season he stumped 21 batsmen and caught 35; in the Final Test when only six England wickets fell he made two catches and stumped Hammond and Leyland beautifully. Cameron was a very fine personality, one who enriched the game and whose manliness and popularity extended far beyond the cricket field. The passing of this charming fellow was a cruel loss not only to the game but to all who knew him.

© John Wisden & Co