William Russell Endean
May 31, 1924, Parkview, Johannesburg, Transvaal
June 28, 2003, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, (aged 79y 28d)
Right hand bat
One of the great fielders who sparked the post-war revival of South African cricket, Russell Endean, died in England, aged 79. Although he made his debut as a wicketkeeper, Endean took the bulk of his 41 catches in the outfield, often as a part of the offensive ring that supported Hugh Tayfield's extraordinarily accurate off-spinners.
Endean was also involved in two of the game's oddest dismissals. At The Oval in 1951 Len Hutton's first contact with a ball from Athol Rowan made the ball loop towards the debutant's gloves. Hutton's subsequent swish at the ball brought an appeal and Hutton became the first Test cricketer to be given out obstructing the field. Five years later Endean was the first Test player to be dismissed handled the ball when he fended off a Jim Laker delivery at Newlands.
The high point of Endean's career was the 1952-53 tour of Australia. Written off as no-hopers, Jack Cheetham's team set new standards in fielding. Endean's one-handed boundary catch of a huge hit by Keith Miller off Tayfield is remembered as among the most brilliant of all time. Endean's century (162 not out) in this Melbourne Test was to be the South Africans' only one of the series. Endean's second-innings 70 also helped South Africa to a rubber-equalling win when they returned to Melbourne for the final Test.
Endean scored two other international centuries: 116 at Auckland in a draw and 116 not out at Leeds when the 1955 South Africans won to level the series at 2-2 before falling to Laker and Lock in the final Test.
In Australia he came to be known as 'Endless Endean' but in domestic cricket he had a reputation for fast scoring. He became the first South African to make a hundred runs before lunch in a 1954 innings for Transvaal against Free State.
Endean modelled himself on the great Bruce Mitchell with his bat five inches off the ground in a somewhat upright stance. Like Jonty Rhodes and the Proteas' new boy Thami Tsolekile, Endean played hockey for South Africa. A very popular player, Endean was a thorough gentleman with off-field tastes perhaps more refined than the average cricketer. Broadcaster Charles Fortune remembered Endean shocking his colleagues by attending the ballet during a tour.
"Whatever the passport is to be a gentleman, Russell had that passport," Johnny Waite, Endean's former Test team-mate, said. "And he would walk into a list of the best fifteen cricketers ever to have played for South Africa."
Endean served with the South Africa 6th Armoured Division in Egypt and Italy during World War II and qualified as a chartered accountant. His wife Muriel, who he met on the 1955 England, tour died two years ago. He lived in Worcester Park in Surrey and had worked as a chartered accountant for BP.
Wisden Cricket Monthly, August 2003
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