Kenneth George Viljoen
May 14, 1910, Windsorton, Cape Province
January 21, 1974, Krugersdorp, Transvaal, (aged 63y 252d)
Right hand Bat
Right arm Bowler
Ken Viljoen, who died in Johannesburg in January at the age of 63, not only played in 27 Test matches for South Africa but rendered his country's cricket great service as an administrator. Without detracting in any way from his ability as a player it is as a manager of South African teams to Australia in 1952-53 and 1963-64 and to England in 1955 that he is likely to be most remembered. The prospects of the South African team which went to Australia in 1952 could not have been gloomier from every point of view. Many in both countries felt that the tour should be cancelled to avoid such inevitable and crushing defeats as to do irreparable harm to the immediate future of the game in South Africa. In the event, and thanks largely to the remarkable leadership combination of the captain, Jack Cheetham. and the manager a wonderful team spirit was created. Ken Vilioen's quiet determination, an insistence on the right sort of discipline, and their combined appreciation of the value of fielding laid the foundations of a success beyond anyone's wildest dreams. The Australian tour wisely led to the same combination bringing the team to England in 1955. Again, understanding and discipline of the same kind brought success. Perhavs less dramatic than in Australia, but equally encouraging as far as South African cricket was concerned. The same should be said of the South African tour to Australia in 196364 when, with Trevor Goddard as captain. Ken Vilioen again followed his, by then familiar. principles which I firmly believe did so much to ensure South Africa's preeminence in the cricket world over the next decade. As a batsman, Ken Vilioen reflected his characteristics as a man-full of courage and quiet, yet fierce, determination. A good onside player and cutter with a sound defensive technique and, unlike many batsmen today. he played well off the back foot. He enjoyed a satisfactory Test match career lasting from 1930 to 1949, and also two very successful tours out of the three he made to England. That he could be stylish, too, was made plain to me when he made 201 against Sussex in 1947 in under four hours-an innings which I enjoyed watching (?) from the closest possible vantage point. Ken Viljoen's cricket career was properly rewarded by the presidency of the South African Cricket-Association. One wishes he could have lived to have seen the circumstances created when his country could have once again taken its place in the international cricket scene.
John Arlott, The Cricketer, May 1974
Batting & Fielding