Norman Gordon, the former South Africa fast bowler who was the world's oldest Test cricketer, has died aged 103. Gordon played all five Tests against England in 1938-39, including the famous Timeless Test in Durban that ended in a draw despite stretching for ten days.
Gordon, the first Test cricketer to have lived to the age of 100, died at his home in Johannesburg, where he has lived for over sixty years. He had spent parts of the last year in and out of hospital with renal problems but was in good health otherwise.
He was renowned for his fitness and athleticism during his playing days. He bowled 92.2 eight-ball overs during that timeless Test. He could play only five Tests because his career coincided with World War II. Gordon was the last surviving Test cricketer to have played before World War II.
Ali Bacher, the former CSA chief executive and Test player, paid tribute to Gordon. "He always had a smile on his face," he told ESPNcricinfo. "He had one common theme about his life: he always enjoyed the people he met, through cricket and through golf. He lived life to the full." Gordon was an honorary life member of the Houghton Golf Club and a regular visitor there for lunches and suppers.
Gordon lived in Hillbrow, close to the Johannesburg City Centre, which was a plush area in the 1970s and 1980s but had suffered neglect in the following decades. Despite the changes in the area, Gordon remained a popular figure among the residents.
"When I went to visit him I asked him whether he had ever been bothered by living there or felt unsafe," Bacher said. "He said no. He said there was only one occasion when he was bothered by someone at night but in general everybody knew him there and everybody loved him."
Bacher also recalled his memories of visiting Gordon's sports shop as a child and said the former fast bowler was popular with female fans.
"In the 1950s, Norman owned a sports shop in Eloff Street," Bacher said. "Every year my mother would take me there to buy a new bat. I used to look forward to those visits so much.
"Norman was very good-looking; he always had ladies after him. When I was interviewing him for SuperSport a few years ago, my mother-in-law, who is 98, fairly conservative and of very sound mind, went to my wife with a confession. She said that when she was 17 she had a crush on Gordon. So when I interviewed him I had to ask him whether he knew how popular he was with women. When I put it to him that the ladies seemed to really like him, he said, 'Oh yes, I know.'"