Quick Links
Most viewed players

South Africa

Player index by type
Player index by letter

South Africa

Athol Rowan      

Full name Athol Matthew Burchell Rowan

Born February 7, 1921, Kensington, Johannesburg, Transvaal

Died February 22, 1998, Hermanus, Western Cape (aged 77 years 15 days)

Major teams South Africa, Transvaal

Batting style Right-hand bat

Bowling style Right-arm offbreak

Relation Brother - EAB Rowan, Son-in-law - TW van Beuge, Grandson - BW van Beuge

Athol Matthew Burchell Rowan
Batting and fielding averages
Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 6s Ct St
Tests 15 23 6 290 41 17.05 0 0 1 7 0
First-class 58 82 20 1492 100* 24.06 1 4 25 0
Bowling averages
Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 4w 5w 10
Tests 15 25 5193 2084 54 5/68 8/232 38.59 2.40 96.1 2 4 0
First-class 58 16755 6408 273 9/19 23.47 2.29 61.3 20 7
Career statistics
Test debut England v South Africa at Nottingham, Jun 7-11, 1947 scorecard
Last Test England v South Africa at The Oval, Aug 16-18, 1951 scorecard
Test statistics
First-class span 1939/40 - 1951

Athol Rowan, who died on February 21, 1998, aged 77, was one of South Africa's best off-spinners. He played 15 Tests, all against England, between 1947 and 1951, and made a speciality of dismissing Len Hutton: 11 times in all, including five in a row at the end of the 1948-49 series and the First Test of 1951. Morally, the figure might be 12: he was the bowler at The Oval when Hutton was given out for obstruction after impeding wicket-keeper Russell Endean as he tried to take a simple catch. Hutton rated Rowan almost as high as Laker. Rowan's achievements were the more remarkable since his leg was damaged by a wartime explosion: he was unable to put his full weight on the front foot, often bowled in pain, and sometimes in leg irons. In his way, he was as courageous as his famously feisty older brother Eric, but Athol's way was more good-humoured and quiet. He also suffered slightly different privations on the 1947 tour: England was still in the grip of rationing, and Rowan was a famous trencherman. Before the war, he had bowled fast-medium. When he came back, having escaped from the Germans when taken prisoner in the Western desert, he turned into an off-spinner while retaining something more like a seam bowler's grip. His most dramatic performance came at The Wanderers in 1949-50, when he took nine for 19 as Transvaal bowled the mighty Australians out for 84. Set 69 to win, Transvaal were bowled out for 53 themselves. But Rowan's captain, Dudley Nourse, singled out his performance against England at Port Elizabeth a year earlier when he bowled almost unchanged for figures of 60-9-166-5. It had to be seen to be appreciated, wrote Nourse. As I called on his reserve of energy he unfailingly gave of his best without ever a murmur. A wholehearted bowler is Athol Rowan, but not a lucky one. He missed the Tests against Australia through injury, and the pain forced him to retire after the 1951 tour of England.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack

Latest Articles
Latest Photos

May 2, 1951

The 1951 South African tour party to England. Back row (left to right): Clive van Ryneveld, Athol Rowan, John Waite, Jackie McGlew, Roy McLean, Cuan McCarthy, Russell Endean, Michael Melle and Percy Mansell. Sitting: Geoffrey Chubb, Eric Rowan, Dudley Nourse, Jack Cheetham, George Fullerton and Norman Mann

The 1951 South African tour party to England

© Getty Images

Sep 11, 1947

South Africa cricketers (L-R) Ken Viljoen, Athol Rowan, Lindsay Tuckett and Jack Plimsoll sign a bat, London, September 11, 1947

South Africa cricketers (L-R) Ken Viljoen, Athol Rowan, Lindsay Tuckett and Jack Plimsoll sign a bat

© Getty Images

Jun 10, 1947

Athol Rowan bowling against England at Trent Bridge, England v South Africa, Trent Bridge, June 10, 1947

Athol Rowan bowling against England at Trent Bridge

© The Cricketer International