Sidney James Pegler
July 28, 1888, Durban, Natal
September 10, 1972, Plumstead, Cape Town, Cape Province, (aged 84y 45d)
Right hand bat
Right arm medium, Legbreak
Sid Pegler was much better known as a player in England than in his own country.
This arose from his spending some 25 years as a District Commissioner in Nyasaland, as it then was, which put an end to his regular first-class cricket after the 1912 tour to England. Indeed, although he continued to play up to 1930 his last appearance in South Africa itself had been as long before as 1912-13,
when he played in one game only. As against this he was in the 1924 team to England and played more domestic cricket in England when back on leave than he ever played in South Africa though, unhappily, not much in either country. This was a great loss to South Africa for he would have been an early choice for the
1913-14 Test team (the Barnes tour) and probably for the teams in the early 1920s also. In all he played in only 16 Tests. Although Pegler had only limited success in Australia, he was a great success in England in 1912, one of the very few South African successes. Tall, strong and fit - and, though it has no bearing on the matter, handsome also - he was admirably equipped to bear the brunt of the bowling. In fact he was given little rest. He played in 34 of the 37 first-class matches and took 189 wickets, the highest ever by a South African. His success extended to the Tests also. Although South Africa were heavily beaten in five of the six Tests, he took 29 wickets at the modest average of 21, including 7 for 65 against England at Lord's. Lord's, and particularly when bowling from the pavilion end, provided him with some of his finest performances. Earlier, against MCC he had taken 6 for 44. On the 1924 tour he took 8 for 54, his best bowling performance, against MCC and, to cap a remarkable series, in his very last match in 1930, for MCC he skittled out Wales with 4 for 14 and 6 for 62. He was then just 42. Pegler was not in the original team selected to tour England in 1924 but by a happy chance was on the same ship as the team, with some months leave ahead of him. Permission was sought, and granted, to include him if he was fit and in form. What the team would have done
without him is painful to contemplate. Without repeating fully his 1912 success, he took 108 wickets, second only to J. M. Blanckenberg with 119. The team was even weaker than in 1912, perhaps the weakest ever sent overseas by any country. This time Pegler could not repeat his 1912 Test successes, but his total `bag'
of nine Test wickets was still the highest of the team. Pegler subsequently made a third trip to England in 1951 as manager, and it is a sad commentary on a splendid player that he was associated with three of the least successful
South African teams to tour England. A right-hand medium-pace bowler with an
easy action, a high delivery and clever pace variations, Pegler relied mainly on a quick break from the leg, though he sometimes brought one back from the off. Though he was not a recognised batsman he occasionally made useful runs fast. Indeed his 50 in 14 minutes for the South Africans against Tasmania at Launceston in 1911 is one of the fastest half-centuries on record.
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