Obituary, 2004

Russell Endean

ENDEAN, WILLIAM RUSSELL, died on June 28, 2003, aged 79, having been suffering from Parkinson's disease. Like Jonty Rhodes in a later generation of South Africans, Russell Endean was an inspirational fielder, a dogged batsman, and a hockey international. Australians dubbed him "Endless Endean" for his long hours at the crease when Jack Cheetham's young side toured there in 1952-53 chanceless seven-and-a-half-hour 162 not out that set up the first of South Africa's two wins at Melbourne. On arriving in Australia the South Africans practised fielding three to four hours a day, and Endean's brilliant catch in that first Test win at Melbourne was the embodiment of their commitment. Even as the crowd was rising to acclaim Keith Miller's six-bound blow over long-on, Endean was leaping in front of the MCG's iron boundary fence to clutch the ball one-handed. Endean had seen war service in Egypt and Italy when, still only 21, he announced himself with 95 opening for Transvaal at Bloemfontein in March 1946. Chosen as wicket-keeper/batsman for the 1951 tour of England, he struggled for runs in English conditions and played only when John Waite was injured at The Oval. But Endean's batting on harder pitches, where he could play square of the wicket with impunity, was sometimes devastating: playing for Transvaal at Ellis Park in 1954-55, he flayed Orange Free State for a world-record 197 not out before lunch, extraordinary, even allowing for a three-hour session. So he played in 27 more Tests without taking the gloves, and scored two more centuries, at Auckland in 1952-53 and at Headingley in 1955, though he continued his maddening form in England by following up with a pair in the decisive Oval Test. Endean was involved in two of the most bizarre dismissals in Test history: when he kept at The Oval in 1951, umpire Frank Chester ruled that Len Hutton, who instinctively flicked his bat when the ball ran off his arm and looked like dropping on his wicket, had impeded Endean's attempt to catch the ball and gave him out for obstruction. Against England at Cape Town in 1956-57, Endean himself became the first batsman out "handled the ball" in Test cricket when he tried to stop a top-edged paddle hitting his stumps. He said later: "I thought of heading it away, but that seemed too theatrical"; it might, however, have been legal. Endean represented Transvaal until 1960-61 then settled near London to work for BP as an accountant. He may not have liked the wickets, but his wife was English and he loved the opera and ballet. Endean played on for MCC in schools games and for many years captained Malden Wanderers in Surrey club cricket, making countless friends with his softly spoken, undemonstrative manner. "Whatever the passport is to be a gentleman," said John Waite, "Russell had that passport."

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