Patrick Bernard Clift
July 14, 1953, Salisbury (now Harare)
September 02, 1996, Durban North, Natal, South Africa, (aged 43y 51d)
Right hand bat
Right arm medium
St George's College, Harare
Leicestershire's 1996 Championship joy was dimmed by news of the death of one of the club's finest players of not so long ago. Paddy Clift, who was only 43, died in Durban on Sept 2, succumbing to bone-marrow cancer. He leaves a wife and three children.
Tall and slim, Clift burst onto the English scene in April 1976 with 8 for 17 for Leicestershire against MCC at Lord's, `bowling straight and waiting for the batsmen to miss'. He took a wicket with his first ball, and was to finish sixth in the national averages that season with 74 at 20.18. (The Lord's match had an extraordinary conclusion after Ray Illingworth set MCC a target of 325 in 4½ hours: Amiss and Brearley posted 301 for the first wicket, and victory was achieved by nine wickets.)
Patrick Bernard Clift had been recommended to Leicestershire by his fellow Rhodesian/Zimbabwean Brian Davison, who had been with the county since 1970. Born in Salisbury (now Harare) on July 14, 1953 and educated at St George's College (where he was coached by Jim Cornford of Sussex), Clift had already had several first-class seasons with his native province, and now proved a shrewd signing by Leicestershire in succession to Graham McKenzie, the powerful Australian.
While qualifying for the county, Clift played as West Bromwich Dartmouth's pro. Then, given his chance by Leicester, whose strong batting line-up compelled him to bat lower than might have been the case elsewhere, he launched his nine-season county career with the sensational 8 for 17 at Lord's, which remained the best figures of 1976. Capped that season, in August he bagged a hat-trick against Yorkshire at Grace Road, one of some quality: Hampshire, Squires and Lumb. There was to be another three-in-three nine years later at Chesterfield.
The physical effort of playing Currie Cup cricket ( Rhodesia 1971-80; Natal- whom he captained - 1980-88) between English seasons began to take its toll, and the Achilles-tendon problem which restricted him to five matches for Leicestershire in 1982 was followed by knee trouble. Still, though, he proved to be a most dependable allrounder, not least in limited-overs cricket. The county won the Benson & Hedges Cup in 1985, Clift taking 2 for 40 against Essex in the final before Willey and Garnham saw Leicester home with an unbeaten sixth-wicket stand of 80.
Clift's most famous innings was a hurricane 100 not out at Hove in 1983, reached in 50 minutes (four sixes, 13 fours) as he and Gower built a target for Sussex. It remains the fastest century ever scored for Leicestershire. His other county hundred (106) came at Chelmsford in 1985. And he shared Rhodesia's eighth-and ninth-wicket records, the latter in partnership with Robin Jackman.
A natural slip fielder, possessed also of a good throwing arm, Clift held five catches in an innings at Worcester in 1976. In 1984 he took eight wickets for a second time (for 26 runs), when 20 wickets fell in a day's play at Edgbaston, and it is inevitably for his bowling skills - later as an offspinner- that he will best be remembered. When he settled in Durban to pursue his bank career, he had taken 876 first-class wickets at 24.67 (586 at 23.90 for Leicestershire). His daring bat had landed 8383 runs at 23.61 in his 319 matches, and he held 161 catches.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Batting & Fielding
Debut/Last Matches - Player
List A Matches