Arthur Dudley Nourse
November 12, 1910, Durban, Natal
August 14, 1981, Durban, Natal, (aged 70y 275d)
Right hand Bat
Right arm Bowler
Arthur Dudley Nourse, who died at his home in Durban on August 14, was destined to outstrip even the deeds of his father, A. W. 'Dave' Nourse, although the war cost him many Test appearances. The first of his 34 Test matches was at Trent Bridge in 1935, and the last at The Oval in 1951. In that time he scored 2960 runs, with nine centuries (seven against England), at the rare average of 53.81, and established a reputation as a fighting batsman, defensive when need be but ever ready to punch the ball with all the strength of his beefy forearms.
His most renowned innings was 208 in the Nottingham Test of 1951. Coming into the match (at the age of 40) with his broken right thumb pinned, he batted for nine hours, gritting his teeth against the pain, and not only registering South Africa's first double-century against England, but captaining South Africa to their first Test victory for 16 years.
And yet his finest innings from a technical point of view was his 115 at Old Trafford four years earlier, on his second tour of England, when he was vice-captain. On a spiteful pitch, with the ball rearing from a length, he hit 13 fours and two sixes before being yorked by Edrich.
Nourse's first tour of England, in 1935, brought him little Test success, though he scored a century in each innings against Surrey in May, followed immediately by 148 against Oxford, compelling 'Plum' Warner to utter the squelcher: 'A Nourse, a Nourse, my kingdom for a Nourse." An unbeaten 160 against Warwickshire in August helped him towards an aggregate for the tour of 1681 (av. 41). Back home, Nourse did well against the 1935-36 Australians, making 91 in the first Test and 231 in the second, still a Test record for the city of Johannesburg. The innings lasted no more than 289 minutes, contained 36 boundaries, and was the highest for South Africa in any Test at the time -- and yet was over-shadowed somewhat by Stan McCabe's glorious 189 not out on the last day, when Wade appealed successfully in the stormy gloom in the interests of his fieldsmen.
Such was the international calendar in those days that it was just on three years before South Africa's next Test match, and Nourse, having made runs galore for Natal, partook of the high scoring in the home series against England, making centuries in the Cape Town Test and in the final match, the 'timeless Test' at Durban.
During war service in the Middle East, he smote nine sixes off nine balls (including all six in an over) in a match in Alexandria; but, having lost his peak years to the war, he had also lost some of his health and his slimness. Gradually he found his form again, and England in 1947 saw a redoubtable Nourse. His stand of 319 with Melville in the opening Test, at Trent Bridge, remains the second-highest in South Africa's Test history, and a further century flashed from his bat -- in a losing cause -- in the third Test, at Old Trafford. He renewed acquaintances with Edgbaston with an unbeaten 205 against Warwickshire, and in The Oval Test he was given out bowled for 97 only after an umpires' consultation. His 621 runs (av. 69) topped the Springbok averages, and only the phenomenal figures of Edrich and Compton exceeded his on the English side.
A year later his form still held as he captained against England in a losing series, making centuries in the Cape Town and Johannesburg Tests and leading the averages of both sides with 76.57. A year later he scored consistently in the four defeats by Australia, reaching three figures at Cape Town. And at last, in the 1951 series in England, he led his country to a victory, his 208 at Nottingham receiving the necessary support from the bowlers. The rest of the tour was anticlimax, England winning three of the other four Tests. Nourse's ninth century, however, placed him on a pinnacle, still unmatched today, eleven years into South Africa's isolation.
In all first-class cricket in South Africa or for his country overseas Dudley Nourse made six double-centuries, to occupy second place to his father, who made seven. Altogether the son, of whom the father was so proud, scored 12,472 runs at the outstanding average of 51.37, with 41 centuries, unequalled by any Springbok apart from Graeme Pollock among those who have not played domestic cricket in England or Australia. Dudley Nourse did not tour Australia, but had 'connections'. When he was born, on November 12, 1910, his father had just made 201 not out against South Australia at Adelaide; the new-born was named after Australia's Governor-General. At 14 young Dudley was headed for Australia with members of the family when his mother became ill and the journey was cancelled. Fate thus preserved for South African cricket one of its firmest and most admirable pillars.
Nourse's autobiography, Cricket in the Blood, was published in 1949, and after retirement from the field he served as a national selector and as a popular tour manager.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Batting & Fielding