Denis Stanley Tomlinson
September 04, 1910, Umtali (now Mutare), Rhodesia
July 11, 1993, Durban, Natal, (aged 82y 310d)
Right hand bat
One of four surviving members of the victorious 1935 South African touring team in England, Denis Stanley Tomlinson died in Durban on July 11, aged 82. He had suffered two recent strokes and failing eyesight.
Tomlinson was capped by Rhodesia at 17, in early 1928, as a batsman and legspin bowler, and also by SA Schools against the touring MCC team at Grahamstown, where he captured the prize wicket of Percy Holmes, the leading runmaker on the tour. Among Tomlinson's team-mates were 'Tuppy' Owen-Smith and Ken Viljoen.
He represented Border in one friendly while stationed in East London, but returned for Rhodesia against the 1930-31 MCC side under Percy Chapman, and took 5 for 106 at Bulawayo (including the great Hammond, stumped for a paltry 7) and 2 for 85. In 1931-32 he scored his maiden century for Rhodesia, opening against EP. He batted at every position from No.1 to 11 for his country. For good measure, in the match against EP he took 3 for 36 and 4 for 19 to set up an innings victory.
Having taken a lot of wickets in the trial matches, Tomlinson earned a place on the 1935 England tour, when he played in 19 matches, taking 52 wickets at 26.53, his best figures coming in the two matches against Glamorgan (5 for 72 and 6 for 105) and his highest score, 70 not out, against Oxford University. A lack of accuracy, particularly after Balaskas was injured, caused him and his team-mates much disappointment.
Tomlinson's one Test appearance was at Trent Bridge, in the opening Test match, when he took 0 for 38 off 10 overs in an England total of 384 for 7 dec (Wyatt, the captain, 149). His only innings amounted to 9, bowled by Nichols. The nuggety little legspinner Balaskas struck form before the Lord's Test, taking 4 for 55 and 8 for 99 against Yorkshire at Bramall Lane, and took Tomlinson's place in the Test side. The decision was fully justified when Balaskas (9 for 103 in the match) bowled South Africa to an historic first victory on English soil, capitalising on Cameron's 90 and Mitchell's 164 not out on a difficult pitch.
Tomlinson and Cameron contracted enteric fever on the voyage home, and Cameron died from the illness some weeks later. Tomlinson was forced to miss the next season and was affected by the illness for years afterwards. After the war, Tomlinson continued to shine for Rhodesia. In 1946-47 he took 6 for 56 against WP at Newlands and later, at home, 6 for 87 against a Natal XI containing no fewer than nine Springboks. During his long first-class career he scored 912 runs (16.88) and captured 156 wickets (28.32). With the passing of Eric Rowan and Denis Tomlinson in recent months, only three members of the triumphant 1935 team remain: Xenophon Balaskas, Bob Crisp and Bruce Mitchell.
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