Joseph Titus Partridge
December 09, 1932, Bulawayo, Rhodesia
June 06, 1988, Harare, Zimbabwe, (aged 55y 180d)
Right hand bat
Right arm fast medium
One of the best swing bowlers of the past half-century, Joseph Titus Partridge, has finished his days in pathetic degradation. Rhodesian-born Partridge, for some years a vagrant alcoholic, turned a gun on himself on June 7 in a police station in a suburb of Harare after having been arrested for not paying a bill at a hotel. He was 55.
Born in Bulawayo on Dec 9, 1932, he made his debut for Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1951, but, with Adcock and Heine at their peak, it was some years before he earned higher consideration. In 1959-60 he had the remarkable figures of 7 for 9 against Border, and in 1961-62, when he took 53 wickets at only 13.98 in seven matches, he ran through Natal with 8 for 69 and 6 for 32 at Salisbury. When he broke the South African record with 64 wickets (16.68) in the 1962-63 season his claim to a Test trial was irresistible.
He went with Trevor Goddard's side to Australia and New Zealand in 1963-64, and was a huge success. Using the humidity and the breezes which have so often befriended medium-pacers at Australia's coastal cricket centres, Joe Partridge, bespectacled and so obviously a banker by occupation, purred in to take nine wickets in the NSW match and after an unsuccessful Test debut at Brisbane (where Ian Meckiff was no-balled for throwing) and five wickets at Melbourne, he took nine more in the Sydney Test, including Lawry, O'Neill, Burge, Booth (twice) and Shepherd. After a fairly barren time at Adelaide, where Barlow and Pollock had their marvellous stand of 341 and South Africa levelled at 1-1, Partridge put his personal seal on the series with 7 for 91 in Australia's first innings at Sydney in the excitingly drawn final Test. He thus took 27 wickets (18.67) off 148.1 eight-ball overs in his three first-class matches at Sydney Cricket Ground.
Joint leading wicket-taker in the series with Peter Pollock (25) for either side, Partridge went on to take 13 more wickets in the three drawn Tests in New Zealand, including figures of 6 for 86 at Auckland. His 62 wickets on the tour overall placed him five ahead of Pollock, and Australasian spectators were generous in their praise of a tireless and skilful bowler who specialised in the in-ducker but was also capable of running the ball away to the slips. When England toured South Africa in 1964-65, Partridge took six wickets for Rhodesia (including Boycott in each innings) but found success elusive in the three Tests in which he played. His six wickets cost 293 runs, and he had worn Springbok colours for the last time.
In Currie Cup matches Partridge took 195 wickets at 18.81, while in his 11 Tests he took 44 wickets at 31.20. He began to drink a lot when employed as a brewery representative, and he and his wife, who had four children, divorced five years ago. He managed to overcome a wasting disease caused by microbes in the water. He had been in financial difficulties for some time.
Brian Bassano writes: Joe Partridge established himself in 1952-53 by taking 33 wickets at 19.06, and did even better two years later with 34 at 21.76, including 8 for 124 (11 wickets in the match) against Border. Against the touring Surrey team in 1959-60 he took 6 for 26 in 23 overs (as well as the 7 for 9 against Border), but was not chosen for the 1960 Springbok tour of England, where conditions would have suited him ideally. His 1962-63 domestic record of 64 wickets has only twice been exceeded, both times by Vintcent van der Bijl (65 in 1975-76 and 75 in 1981-82). When he took all those wickets at Sydney on the 1963-64 tour, his fielding position down at third man became known as 'Joe's corner'. Well-built and strong, the bespectacled Partridge was a fine team man, and will be remembered with affection.
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