Obituaries, 2007

Obituaries index: K-R

A-E | F-J | K-R | S-W |

This section records the lives of those who died during 2006 and were:

  • Test cricketers
  • first-class cricketers from Great Britain and Ireland
  • Other personalities of interest from around the world

    Some of those who appeared in fewer than ten first-class matches are included under Briefly Noted after the main listing. Wisden always welcomes information about those who might be included. Please send details to almanack@wisdengroup.com or to Matthew Engel at Fair Oak, Bacton, Herefordshire HR2 0AT.

    KANMADIKAR, ANANTH WAGESH, who died on August 15, 2006, aged 80, was the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India from 1980 to 1985. He was also chairman of his home state, Madhya Pradesh. Sharad Pawar, the current board president, said: "He was an able administrator and a human being who always had the players' requirements in mind."

    KITCHIN, JOHN EVERARD, who died on August 30, 2005, aged 77, was a fine schoolboy all-rounder at St Edward's, Oxford. He played for The Rest against Southern Schools at Lord's in 1946. At university, he was better known as a golfer, captaining Oxford and representing England while still an undergraduate. Kitchin was a schoolmaster who spent much of his life dogged by depression. From 1989 to 1997, he was in charge of Wisden's obituaries, a job he did with empathy, enthusiasm and flashes of insight.

    KUNDERAN, BUDHISAGAR KRISHNAPPA, died of cancer on June 23, 2006, aged 66. Budhi Kunderan was an attacking batsman and a solid wicketkeeper, whose appearances for India were restricted by the presence of a similar livewire in Farokh Engineer. Kunderan played only 18 Tests to Engineer's 46, but Kunderan liked to point out, in a spirit of friendly rivalry, that his batting average was higher (32.70 to 31.08). His first Test, against Australia at Bombay in 1959-60, came even before he had played a Ranji Trophy match, and he had to borrow some wicketkeeping gloves from Naren Tamhane, the man he had displaced. Even so, he acquitted himself well, hitting 71 in his second match after opening: "I scored about 16 runs in the first over," he recalled, "and later the Australian commentator Michael Charlton came to me and said 'Do you realise you're playing Test cricket?' " When he did make his Ranji debut, he scored a double-century: 205 for Railways against Jammu and Kashmir. But a run of low scores pushed Kunderan down the Test batting order and, eventually, out of the side. He bounced back in 1963-64 by blasting 192, with 31 fours, in the First Test against Mike Smith's England tourists at Madras. He woke on the first morning not expecting to play; by nightfall he had thrilled a 30,000 crowd by reaching an unbeaten 170. In The Times, John Woodcock compared him to Rohan Kanhai for his looks, his strokeplay and his effrontery, adding: "He plays the ball uncommonly late, which is a sign of his class."

    A round 100 followed in the Fourth Test at Delhi, and he finished the series with 525 runs, a record for a wicketkeeper at the time. Still his place was not secure, possibly because of his relationship with the captain; Kunderan later assessed the Nawab of Pataudi as "not a players' captain - he was aloof and domineering". After spanking 79 from No. 9 against a mighty West Indian attack at Bombay in December 1966, Kunderan came to England the following year, and played two Tests as a batsman while Engineer kept wicket. In what turned out to be his final Test, Kunderan even opened the bowling after a series of injuries (when asked what sort of bowling to expect, he told reporters "I don't know"). To his dismay, Kunderan missed the 1967-68 Australian tour, and never played for India again. Disillusioned with Indian cricket, in 1970 he moved to Scotland, where he proved a popular professional with the Coatbridge club Drumpellier, staying with them until he was 55, and inspiring them to four Western Union titles in the 1970s. He played for Scotland in the Benson and Hedges Cup in 1980 and 1982. At birth his name was "Kunderam", but he changed the spelling in 1964.

    LAMBERT, NOEL HAMILTON, died on October 10, 2006, aged 96. A righthand batsman, Ham Lambert played nine first-class matches for Ireland either side of the war, making 69 not out against Scotland in Belfast in 1937. Later that year he played in an extraordinary game, which finished inside a day, against the New Zealand tourists, who were bowled out for 64 in between skittling the Irish for 79 and 30 (Jack Cowie six for three). He won two rugby caps as a centre; his father and uncle also played cricket for Ireland.

    LEGALL, RALPH ARCHIBALD, is reported to have died in either New York state, Ontario or Trinidad, probably in February 2003. He would have been 77. Legall was one of only two men to play Test cricket and Davis Cup tennis. The other was Cotar Ramaswami, who by coincidence was the Indian tour manager when Legall made his four Test appearances as West Indies' wicketkeeper in 1952- 53. By further coincidence, Ramaswami's death is even more mysterious, and remains unconfirmed, although he would now be nearly 111. Legall collected 50 runs and nine dismissals in his Tests, but was never chosen again, although he played on for Trinidad until 1957-58. He had two seasons in the Lancashire leagues, then moved to Canada, where he was winning national age-group tennis titles as late as 1990. His Davis Cup appearances came for the British Caribbean against the USA and Canada in 1954 and 1956. He was also a useful hockey, basketball and soccer player, and was one of the first inductees into Trinidad's sporting Hall of Fame.

    LONG, HAROLD IAN, who died on June 24, 2006, aged 76, was an off-spinning all-rounder who played 29 matches for Eastern Province. He started in 1952-53 with 77 on debut, against Western Province, and made a century, against Border, batting No. 9 two seasons later. Two of his sons, Grant and Simon, also played first-class cricket.

    McGINN, ALBERT HOWARD, who died on August 20, 2006, aged 92, was a fast bowler who made a sensational debut for Queensland in November 1941, in the last match played in Australia before cricket was suspended for the war. He dismissed Les Fallowfield with his first delivery and Stan McCabe, the New South Wales captain, with the last ball of his opening eight-ball over. He took only six more wickets in his four-match career.

    MAKOSANA, SOLOMON, died on August 3, 2006, aged 58 from diabetesrelated complications. He helped organise cricket in South Africa's Western Cape - particularly the township of Langa - for more than 30 years. Makosana overcame a poor background to go to university and become principal of Nomalinganiselo primary school in Nyanga. He became president of the Western Province Cricket Association, and was on the UCB's general council for several years. The South African team wore black armbands in his memory on the first day of their Second Test in Sri Lanka.

    MANDAN, SHARAD, died in a car crash in South Africa on July 2, 2006, aged 20. A promising left-hand opener, he had scored 115 not out in his most recent one-day match for Easterns, against Free State at Bloemfontein in March, and also made 98 in a first-class match against Griqualand West at Kimberley earlier in 2005-06.

    MARSHALL, Sir ROBERT MICHAEL, died on September 6, 2006, aged 76. Michael Marshall was Conservative MP for Arundel from 1974 to 1997. He was a cricket lover who captained the Lords and Commons team; he also wrote several books, notably Gentlemen and Players, an oral history which included forewords "by E. R. Dexter and Trueman, F. S.", the captains in the last Lord's match in 1962. While working in India in the 1960s he would save up his annual leave for England tours, then offer his services as a commentator free to the cash-strapped BBC. He also commentated on All-India Radio. Marshall was briefly a junior minister under Margaret Thatcher but, The Times noted, was "regarded as having too independent a mind".

    MASOOD SALAHUDDIN died after a car crash on March 21, 2006, aged 90. A fast bowler, he played for All-India in two unofficial Tests against an Australian touring team in 1935-36, but just missed out - to the more experienced Shute Banerjee - on the 1936 England tour. He took six for 62 for United Provinces against Bengal at Calcutta in 1939-40. Salahuddin moved to Pakistan after Partition and continued in first-class cricket until 1959, latterly as captain of Railways. He was also an administrator - assistant manager of Pakistan's first tour of England in 1954, and manager of the 1971 team - and an umpire. In 1954-55, despite being a national selector, he stood in the final Test against India at Karachi after a row about the appointed officials. Salahuddin showed his mettle by giving out the captain he helped appoint, Abdul Hafeez Kardar, stumped for 93. "No other Pakistan umpire would have dared give him out," observed Lala Amarnath, the Indian manager.

    MEADS, ERIC ALFRED, died on June 23, 2006, aged 89. A small and unflashy wicketkeeper, Meads lost his best years to the war. After playing once in 1939, he was almost 30 when county cricket resumed, but was nonetheless a fixture behind the stumps for Nottinghamshire for the next seven years, missing only eight first-class games. In 1948 he made 74 dismissals, the most in England. But in 1953 Bruce Dooland, the Australian leg-spinner, arrived at Trent Bridge. Meads - along with many opposing batsmen - had trouble reading his variations; he lost his place, and never regained it. He was a rabbit with the bat, averaging less than ten over his long career and only twice passing 40; his successor, Eddie Rowe, was even worse. Outside cricket Meads was a printer and stationer, and printed Nottinghamshire's season tickets for several years.

    MEHRA, VIJAY LAXMAN, who died of a heart attack while reading his morning newspaper on August 25, 2006, aged 68, was India's youngest player at the time of his Test debut against New Zealand in 1955-56 (the record is now held by Sachin Tendulkar). Mehra was 17 years 265 days old and, in an era when Indian batsmen generally preferred to perform elegantly against the spinners, he displayed courage against pace, but few strokes. After two Tests, he was sent back to domestic cricket to tighten his technique, and was not recalled for six years, when he made a valiant 62 at Calcutta against Ted Dexter's England, despite breaking his right thumb early on. He reached 62 again later that season in Trinidad, during a dismal whitewash by West Indies, but nonetheless his Test career was over before he turned 26. Mehra remained a consistent scorer in domestic cricket. His friend Bishan Bedi who, like Mehra, came from Amritsar, said: "As a player, he was limited in talent but excelled within those limitations. He was a technician who used to build his innings, not one to take risks." Mehra was a Test selector from 1975 to 1982, and a popular radio commentator. His son, Ajay, played for Punjab and Rajasthan.

    MITCHELL-INNES, NORMAN STEWART, died on December 28, 2006, aged 92. "Mandy" Mitchell-Innes was the oldest surviving England Test cricketer, and the last one to have played before the Second World War, having won his solitary cap as an undergraduate against South Africa in 1935. He was an outstanding all-round sportsman, scoring a triple-century in a house match at Sedbergh when he was 16 (he admitted being dropped three times before reaching 13) as well as being an expert golfer, like his father. Mitchell-Innes was still 16 when he made his Somerset debut in 1931 - at Taunton, having got a telegram the previous day while playing a matchplay tournament in Scotland. After losing at golf, he travelled all night, fielded all day, and picked up two wickets. In 1934 he prospered at Oxford, reaching 1,000 runs, including 171 against Surrey at The Oval. He continued in fine form the following year, and his 168 ("flawless" - Wisden) against the South Africans put him in line for a Test cap. He was duly called up and, despite making only five in a draw at a wet Trent Bridge, was retained for the Second Test at Lord's. But, a martyr to hay fever, he pulled out, quietly informing the chairman of selectors Plum Warner that "I might be sneezing just as a catch comes in the slips." In the event, Mitchell-Innes did score a silky century in London on the Saturday of the Lord's Test - but at The Oval, for Oxford against a Surrey side weakened by the absence of Errol Holmes, who had nipped across town to take up the vacant spot in the Test side.

    That winter Holmes captained Mitchell-Innes in a strong MCC team - an England A side in today's terms - which toured Australia and New Zealand without playing Tests. Mitchell-Innes won another Blue in 1937, finally finishing on the winning side at the fourth attempt, and continued to do well for Somerset after term finished: he had made 182 for them against Worcestershire at Kidderminster in 1936. But that was almost the end of his serious cricket: he joined the Colonial Service in Sudan, like his county team-mate and university pal Jake Seamer (see below), and played very little afterwards. So there were no more Test caps - which might have been England's loss. John Woodcock said: "He was just a lovely stylish games player, and he did what came naturally." He did manage a few county games after the war, some as Somerset's joint-captain in 1948, with no great success. Mitchell-Innes returned to England full-time in 1954, and became company secretary of Vaux Breweries in Sunderland. On his death, the mantle of England's oldest player passed briefly to Lancashire's Ken Cranston, who himself died in January 2007 (obituary in Wisden 2008), and then to Arthur McIntyre.

    MUDGE, HAROLD, died on June 30, 2006, aged 92. An opener from Sydney's Paddington club, where he once shared a partnership of 300 with Alan McGilvray, Mudge played 14 matches for New South Wales up to 1940. He made 94 against Queensland at Sydney on New Year's Day, 1936, and later that year took six for 42 with his leg-breaks against MCC, adding six more in his next match, against South Australia at Adelaide. Mudge's only first-class century came in Ceylon, for Sir Julien Cahn's XI, and he turned out once for Leicestershire in 1937. But although he continued playing for Cahn's Nottingham-based side, he did not pursue a county career, and eventually returned to Australia.

    NAIK, Dr VASANT, died on September 8, 2006, aged 82. An industrial physician, he was also a statistician and close friend of the former Indian captain Vijay Hazare (who died in 2005), and ghosted his books.

    NASIR WASTI died in a car accident in Karachi on July 21, 2006, aged 38. He played 83 first-class matches over a 14-year period for the now-defunct Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) team, scoring three centuries.

    NIEHUUS, RICHARD DUDLEY, died on June 17, 2005, aged 87. Dick Niehuus was a South Australian left-handed opener who relished attacking the new-ball bowlers. He played two matches for the state in 1946-47, then played with attractive consistency the following season, making 137 against the touring Indians.

    NOBLET, GEFFERY, OAM, died on August 16, 2006, aged 89. Geff Noblet was a tall fast bowler with a seven-pace run-up and an unusual high-stepping delivery stride, not unlike Graham Dilley or Geoff Lawson of more recent vintage. He also had a pronounced wrist flick that led to occasional murmurs about the legality of his action. Noblet went down with pleurisy in 1939 and was given only a few days to live, but pulled through well enough to take the new ball for South Australia for several years: overall, his 282 wickets came at less than 20 apiece, but the presence of Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller and Bill Johnston restricted him to three Test caps. Noblet's best season was his last - 55 wickets at 17 in 1952-53 as South Australia won the Sheffield Shield. But he also did well the summer before, winning a Test recall against West Indies after taking seven for 29 against Victoria, and inflicting a king pair on Frank Worrell in the state match against the West Indians. He retired after missing selection for the 1953 Ashes tour, and had two seasons for Nelson in the Lancashire League before concentrating on a banking career. He also coached South Australia, where one of his motivational aids was to make every player write down his ambitions. Ian Chappell, one of Noblet's early charges, thought there was no chance of achieving his: captaining Australia. The spelling of Noblet's often mis-spelled Christian name was itself a mistake: his grandmother's maiden name was Jeffery, but his name was registered with a G.

    O'DWYER, THOMAS EDMUND, who died on September 1, 2005, aged 85, was a member of the Western Australian team which won the Sheffield Shield at the first attempt in 1947-48. His left-arm wrist-spin claimed eight wickets in the innings victory in the first match, against South Australia, including his side's maiden Shield wicket (Dick Niehuus, see above). Another nine wickets against Queensland sealed the team's triumph. After a break of nine years, he returned in 1959-60, when he was 40. Known as "the bowling baritone", he appeared in a number of musicals in Perth, and sang in his church choir for more than 70 years.

    PARSONS, RAYMOND, died of leukaemia on August 18, 2006, aged 63. Ray Parsons was a builder who had been Gloucestershire's chairman since January, after joining the committee in 1994. An award for Gloucestershire's best young cricketer has been set up in his memory: the first winner was David Brown.

    PATEL, BHUPENDRA RAMABHAI, who died on December 11, 2006, aged 77, was a medium-paced all-rounder. He made 54 not out on his Ranji Trophy debut for Mysore, in 1954-55, but played the rest of his first-class cricket for Andhra, captaining them in the late 1960s. His nephew, Brijesh Patel, played 21 Tests.

    PEARSON, HERBERT TAYLOR, who died on June 15, 2006, aged 95, played for Auckland for 15 years, scoring 172 while captaining them against Canterbury over Christmas 1947, in what turned out to be his final season. His runs usually came behind the wicket, though his stubbornness as an opener made him a contender for the 1949 New Zealand tour to England. Facing Ray Lindwall at Eden Park in 1945-46, he was bowled with such force that the off bail almost reached the boundary. Pearson was a solid full-back for the Auckland rugby side and later Keeper of the Key for the thirstier members of the Auckland Cricket Association. The key opened a spare dressing-room where the drinks were stored.

    PHATE, UMAKANT SEWARAM, was found dead in the Hooghly River near Kolkata, on February 5, 2006. He was 40. Phate had been missing for ten days after leaving a hotel where he was staying with other members of the Western Coalfields company team. Phate was wearing a tracksuit; medicines for "mental disorder" were found in the pockets, and police said he had probably committed suicide. He played 28 Ranji Trophy matches for Vidarbha over the decade up to 1996-97 but, after a promising start, including a century in his third match, against Madhya Pradesh, he failed to establish himself.

    PINCH, COLIN JOHN, who died on October 21, 2006, aged 85, played twice for New South Wales in 1949-50 before switching to South Australia. There, he made an immediate impact as an opener when he carried his bat for 146 against Victoria, but it took him until the mid-1950s to established a regular place. He was stocky, and his batting mixed sound defence ("dour", Jack Pollard called him) with thoughtful shot-selection and outstanding footwork against the spinners. He twice hit a century in each innings of a Sheffield Shield match, and topped the national run-scoring list in 1956-57. An outstanding outfielder, he could throw with either arm, a legacy of his days as a baseball player.

    PITHEY, ANTHONY JOHN, died on November 17, 2006, aged 73. Tony Pithey was a Rhodesian who matured at Cape Town University into a solid batsman, staunch against pace bowling. "He was a very sound player - good technique, not flashy," remembered his South African team-mate John Waite. "He was sometimes seen as negative, but that was unfair really, you often need batsmen like that." Pithey's solitary Test century, 154 against England at Cape Town in 1964-65, spanned 434 minutes, although his third 50 came in just short of even time. John Woodcock, in The Times, could not understand why Pithey batted ahead of Graeme Pollock and thought his lack of adventure helped England save the game: "He was a quiet, unassuming tenant who went about his business without upsetting a soul." His 95 in the next Test was equally measured and, although overall he made 462 runs, Pithey's scoring-rate summed up an attritional series, won by England 1-0. As it turned out, his first Test hundred was his 13th and last in first-class cricket: originally selected for the return tour of England in 1965, he dropped out for business reasons, and afterwards rarely played outside Rhodesia. Pithey had gone to England in 1960, but his tour was ruined by back trouble and a virus. He had more luck in Australia in 1963-64, scoring two fifties and a 49 in four Tests. His brother David, an Oxford Blue, also represented South Africa. They played together in five Tests in 1963-64, in three of them alongside the Pollock brothers.

    PRABHU, K. N., died on July 30, 2006, aged 83. Niran Prabhu, sports editor of the Times of India for 24 years, was one of India's most respected sports journalists. A balanced judge with a colourful turn of phrase, he covered many of Indian cricket's greatest triumphs, including the series win in the West Indies in 1971, and the World Cup victory in 1983, the year he retired from the paper and went freelance. He was a long-serving Indian correspondent for The Cricketer. In 1998 he received the C. K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award from the influential Cricket Club of India, and remains the only non-player to have won it.

    PRESTON, JOHN BEAL, who died on December 12, 2006, aged 92, was a South African off-spinner who played one match for Eastern Province in 1933-34, then 11 more for Border after the war. Although his career spanned 15 years, more than half his 13 first-class wickets came inside a week in December 1947.

    RABONE, GEOFFREY OSBORNE, died on January 19, 2006, aged 84. Geoff "Boney" Rabone had the unenviable task of leading New Zealand in the early 1950s, after the team that toured England impressively in 1949 began to break up. A determined if limited all-rounder, Rabone himself was selected for that tour after only six matches for Wellington and did well, scoring 1,021 runs and taking 50 wickets, mostly with off-spin; he also clung on to some fine catches. But it got harder: after the four three-day Tests of 1949 were honourably drawn, Rabone lost five of his other eight Tests, including four of his five as captain. His tenure started well personally, with 107 and 68 in his first match in charge, at Durban in 1953-54, and 56 and six for 68 at Cape Town. However, he missed the last two Tests of that series with a broken foot (some of the South African players lined up and sang "Backbone Rabone got a broke-a bone") and his youngish team lost the series 4-0. They may have had their heads turned by the lavishness of the hospitality, and Rabone was not universally respected. Fast bowler Tony MacGibbon said: "Geoff 's problem was that he was a Lancaster bomber captain in the war, and he tried to run the team in a similar way." Batsman Matt Poore also found Rabone difficult, but added: "You've got to admire the man's guts." MacGibbon agreed with that: "He was a tremendous leader by example. He was hit about a dozen times by Adcock in Durban. In the dressing-room he was just a mass of black and blue." Rabone's last taste of Test cricket was a bitter one: England came on to New Zealand early in 1955, in uncompromising mood after winning the Ashes. In the First Test he survived three hours for 18, and in the Second had the mortification of presiding over the lowest total in Test history - 26 all out. Typically, Rabone hung on longer than anyone: 53 minutes for seven, before being given out lbw to Statham - off the edge, he said later. "It was very unfortunate. We might have made 30 if I hadn't been given out." The humour disguised the pain: "I found it hard to cope with," he admitted. He played on for Auckland, where he had moved in 1950, later becoming a national selector, and enjoyed a successful career with Shell Oil.

    RAMSBOTTOM, ROY FREDERIC, who died on November 21, 2006, aged 63, was chairman of his flourishing village club, Oulton Park in Cheshire. Ramsbottom wrote a widely used booklet on grant aid for sports clubs, now in its eighth edition. He also planned a study of Bodyline and, only days before his death, published a booklet called Pamphlets and Programmes of the 1932-33 MCC Tour to Australia and New Zealand. His extensive cricket library was to be sold, and the proceeds put in trust for Oulton Park's juniors.

    RAYMER, VINCENT NORMAN, died on October 31, 2006, aged 88. "Mick" Raymer - sometimes known as "Possum" - was a key member of the Queensland side in the post-war decade. He was an economical slow left-armer; his accuracy, combined with variations in pace and flight, compensated for not being a big spinner. His left-hand batting was based on hitting the ball hard and often. After a mastoid operation during the war, he suffered from deafness, which once led to him hitting out indiscriminately at the New South Wales fast bowler Alan Walker because he thought his grunt on delivery was the umpire calling no-ball. For years he dominated cricket in Toowoomba, where he was a plasterer.

    REICHWALD, KATHARINE DOROTHEA VERONICA, died on May 5, 2006, aged 81. Veronica "Wonky" Reichwald umpired during the inaugural women's World Cup, in England in 1973, and also stood in two women's Tests in the 1980s.

    REUBEN, JUDAH, who died on November 13, 2006, aged 84, umpired in ten Tests in India. His first, Australia's visit to Calcutta in 1969-70, was enlivened by a riot, and his last, at Madras in 1976-77, was notable for the fuss about the Vaseline-impregnated gauze strip used by England's John Lever. England said Lever was trying to keep the sweat out of his eyes; Reuben thought he was balltampering. "I thought I would get a medal," Reuben reportedly said, "but the board said we must not spoil our relations with England." Reuben's day job was as a fingerprint expert in the Bombay police.

    RHEINBERG, NETTA, MBE, who died on June 18, 2006, aged 94, was a pioneer of women's cricket as a player, journalist, umpire and administrator. She was not a great player: a decent enough batsman and slip for Gunnersbury and Middlesex, she played in just one Test. The team she was managing in Australia, in 1948-49, was hit by injuries: she came in, and got a pair. But in every other sphere, she was outstanding, bringing her business background - the Rheinbergs were in the silk trade - and energy to bear on the women's game's then-haphazard administration. "Netta was an action girl," said the former England captain Rachael Heyhoe-Flint. "We had very few people then, and she galvanised activity, partly just by having a great personality and a sense of humour." She edited the magazine Women's Cricket, contributed regularly to Wisden for more than 30 years, co-wrote (with Heyhoe-Flint) Fair Play, a history of the women's game, and served as membership secretary and vice-chairman of the Cricket Society. In 1999, Rheinberg became one of the ten women initially admitted as MCC honorary members. Her mother had warned her: "You'll never meet nice men if you play cricket." "She was quite right in a way," Netta admitted. "I won't say I didn't meet nice men, but I didn't marry."

    RHODES, WILLIAM ERNEST, died on August 16, 2005, aged 69. Yorkshireborn Billy Rhodes played 36 matches for Nottinghamshire between 1961 and 1964. His only century came against Cambridge, in 1962, but he did fill in as wicketkeeper when Geoff Millman was unavailable, a role his son Steve filled with rather more distinction for Worcestershire and England.

    ROBINSON, PETER KEITH, who died of cancer on April 11, 2006, aged 54, was perhaps South Africa's finest and best-informed cricket writer. He made his name as cricket correspondent on the Johannesburg daily, The Star, from 1990 to 1996. In a society where the most robust traditions of sports journalism disappeared under apartheid, Robinson was notable for his shrewd judgment and lively, often sardonic, phrase-making.

    RONALDSON, MALCOLM BRUCE, died on December 2, 2004, aged 87. Bruce Ronaldson opened the batting, sometimes without gloves, for Eastern Province in five of their Currie Cup matches in 1937-38, making 94 against Western Province. War prevented him playing first-class cricket again, but he captained Tanganyika in the 1950s, leading both them, and East Africa, against a non-white South African touring team captained by Basil D'Oliveira. He moved to Britain in 1962 and spent 20 years as company secretary of Oxfam. His son, Chris, became world real tennis champion.

    ROOPE, GRAHAM RICHARD JAMES, who died on November 26, 2006, aged 60, was a batsman good enough to win 21 Test caps in the 1970s. He never scored a century for England: his highest was a four-hour 77, mostly in partnership with Bob Woolmer, to save the 1975 Ashes Test at The Oval. Roope was athletic, with a mop of dark curly hair, a perpetual smile and usually a story: his cheeriness helped him keep his Test place, along with the fact that England did well with him - he was in a losing Test team only twice. But most important was his fielding, mainly at slip, though he was brilliant whatever his position. "He wasn't a fielder like Randall or Graham Barlow, diving all over the place," said Mike Selvey. "He was a brilliant catcher. People talk about him being a goalkeeper, but I don't think that had much to do with it. He was just an utterly reliable catcher of a cricket ball, with terrific hands and a good eye."

    When Geoff Boycott reached his 100th hundred, in the 1977 Headingley Ashes Test, it was Roope who skipped out of the way at the non-striker's end as the ball scudded past. His own century count was a more modest 26, and he passed 120 only six times, suggesting a certain lack of single-mindedness. When he was on song, though, his cover-drive would zing across the Oval outfield like a skimming stone. His best season was 1971, when Surrey regained the Championship, and Roope got 1,641 runs and 59 catches. Of his eventual 603 catches, more than a fifth - 122 - came off Robin Jackman, who said: "It was a great comfort to have someone like that at second slip." Jackman thought Roope could have played more Tests had he taken his bowling more seriously: he could wobble the ball around at just above medium-pace, and took 50 wickets in 1968, with five for 14 for Surrey against the 1969 West Indians. He also had an extraordinary ability, when kicking the ball away, to hoof it enormous distances, even with old-fashioned pads. And he was known to his team-mates as an infallible navigator wherever they were. He kept travelling in retirement: if there was ever a game or a tour, Roopey ("Cyril" to his fellow pros) was the man. He proed in the leagues, coached at a variety of schools, and turned out wherever or whenever, with a bat, a laugh and a yarn. It was on one such friendly tour, in Grenada, that he died in his sleep, of a suspected heart attack.

    ROSENWATER, ISIDORE, died on January 30, 2006, aged 73. Irving Rosenwater was a cricket statistician and historian. He pursued these not so much as a career or a hobby, but as an obsession and, often, a form of unarmed combat. From a poor East End Jewish background, he became founder-editor of the Journal of the Cricket Society, a regular contributor to the idiosyncratic Cricket Quarterly and assistant editor of The Cricketer in 1967, and was soon a wellknown and much talked-about figure on the circuit. He was the BBC TV scorer from 1970 to 1977, and in 1978 produced Sir Donald Bradman - A Biography, the first detailed and serious account of his life. But his gift for evidence-based cricket writing was subsumed by his prickly obsessiveness. He was a serial resigner and, by then, he had already left the BBC to score for World Series Cricket. Afterwards, a certain paranoia kicked in, and he became increasingly reclusive, retreating to his bachelor home in the East End, with no car and no television, but thousands of cricket books. He continued to produce learned monographs (and testy letters), and was working on one about ticket designs for Lord's when he died. "The Rosenwater mania for absolute veracity and accuracy with content and copy was legendary," said his friend David Rayvern Allen. "Every comma and colon had to be in place. Correspondence was replied to instantly by first-class post. Woe betide the casual sender of a missive by secondclass post - they were likely to receive a vituperative response. Irving knew to the second the delivery time of each piece of mail." According to the Bradman dustjacket, he stopped taking part in Cricket Society quizzes because "he is universally regarded as unbeatable".

    ROWE, Colonel GEOFFREY CHARLES KINGSLEY, died on June 5, 2005, aged 82. A long-serving officer who left the Army briefly for a three-year stint as MCC's assistant secretary (administration) between 1978 and 1981, he had been a handy club cricketer, playing with the former England captain Bob Wyatt for Moseley. Early in his Lord's career he was looking forward to the challenges cricket administration might bring, when one of the first members to visit his office flung something on to his desk and barked "Call that a cheese roll?"

    © John Wisden & Co
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