Ashwell Gavin Prince
May 28, 1977, Port Elizabeth, Cape Province
Left hand Bat
Right arm Offbreak
Top order Batter
A crouching left-hander with a high-batted stance and a grimace reminiscent of Graham Gooch, Ashwell Prince top-scored on Test debut with a gutsy 49 against the mighty Australians in 2001-02. That innings, and a match-winning 48 in the third Test in Durban, seemed to shed his reputation as a one-day flasher. But by the start of the 2002-03 season, his form had fallen away horribly, and he failed in four consecutive home Tests against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
However, Prince returned to the side following some good domestic performances, and valuable knocks in the middle order against West Indies and England at home. Despite two hundreds in the 2004-05 season - an unbeaten 139 against Zimbabwe in Centurion and 131 in South Africa's 2-0 rout of the West Indies - Prince still wasn't an automatic selection in the longer format of the game. Long rated highly by SA's cricket supremo Ali Bacher, Prince was strong through the off side, and was Western Province's player of the year in 2001. His throwing from the deep was hampered by a long-term shoulder injury, but he remained a brilliant shot-stopping fielder in the covers. The highlight of his career was a fine 119 in the third Test against Australia in Sydney in early 2006, but it was during this series that he became bunny to a legend: Shane Warne dismissed him in the first five innings - though Prince played the rest of the bowlers admirably - and troubled him plentiful when South Africa hosted Australia in March. Scores of 17, 27, 33 and 7 overshadowed a fantastic 93 in the first innings in Johannesburg.
In July 2006 he was named as South Africa's first non-white captain in the absence of the injured Graeme Smith. But after they lost 2-0 to Sri Lanka, Prince made way for Mark Boucher to captain in the tri-series, also featuring India, which was ultimately aborted following South Africa's withdrawal over security concerns. Prince was not included in South Africa's squad for the Champions Trophy, but continued his sterling 2006 Test form against India at home. The highest run-scorer on either side in the three-Test contest, Prince's series highlights included an outstanding 97 in a loss at Johannesburg and a third career hundred in Cape Town.
When Pakistan toured next, Prince was the only centurion in the three-Test series. His 138 laid the foundations for victory in the first Test at Centurion Park, and his numbers can't be argued with, as he ended the season's six Tests averaging 60.67. It was enough to earn him a recall to the one-day side, including a ticket to the West Indies for the World Cup, but it was a disappointing tournament and he was again omitted for the short tour of Ireland. He enjoyed a reasonable summer against West Indies, however, with 263 runs in the three Tests, and began the subsequent tour of England in scintillating form, with a crucial momentum-shifting century at Lord's, and a brilliant match-winning 149 at Headingley.
Just as it seemed Prince's career was heading in exactly the right direction, he was derailed. He broke his thumb ahead of the 2008-9 series against Australia and lost his place to JP Duminy, who won the series with a sterling undefeated 166 in Melbourne. Although Prince was promised his role back, he did not get it and was only recalled for the return series against Australia at home, when an injury ruled Smith out again.
Prince was asked to captain and open the batting but refused the former if he could not choose his position in the line-up. Jacques Kallis led the side and Prince opened and scored a defiant 150 to announce his return. That was the last of his 11 centuries.
He was moved back to South Africa's middle order after Duminy lost form and played in 18 more Tests with a top score of 78* and three half-centuries. He was under pressure when South Africa played Sri Lanka in Durban in 2013. Prince was among the low scorers and ran out his partner Hashim Amla. he was dropped for the New Year's Test.
He continued for his local franchise, Warriors. and for Lancashire. He intended to retire from all cricket in 2014 but stayed on to play one more season with Lancashire, where he remained highly productive, and then retired in September 2015 after being named on South Africa's selection panel. In this final season at the country, he starred in a 500-run stand with fellow South African Alviro Petersen and scored a career-best 261.
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