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News

Robin Jackman, former England seamer and broadcaster, dies aged 75

Bowler played four Tests for England in 1981-82, before moving into TV commentary

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
25-Dec-2020
Robin Jackman died on Christmas Day, aged 75

Robin Jackman died on Christmas Day, aged 75  •  Getty Images

Robin Jackman, the former Surrey and England seamer who went on to become one of the leading broadcasters in South African cricket, has died at the age of 75.
Jackman, who made his Test debut in 1981 at the age of 35, claimed 14 wickets at 31.78 in his four England appearances, and also featured in 15 ODIs between 1974 and 1983.
However, he was arguably most famous for the match that he did not play, at Guyana on England's tour of the West Indies in 1980-81, when his connections to Apartheid South Africa - through his wife Yvonne, and through his longstanding cricketing association with the country - led to the cancellation of the second Test of the series.
Jackman had earned his place on that winter's Caribbean tour on the back of a stellar county season for Surrey, who finished second in the County Championship behind their London rivals Middlesex, thanks in no small part to his haul of 121 wickets at 15.40.
In the course of a domestic career that began in 1966, Jackman took more than 1400 first-class wickets at 22.80, and scored 5681 runs at 17.69, with 17 half-centuries. His career-best of 8 for 40 came for Rhodesia against Natal in 1972-73.
Jackman was born in India in 1945 and grew up in England, but coached and played for Rhodesia and Western Province over 11 seasons, a relationship that led the Guyana government to deny him a visa on that 1980-81 England tour.
When the English management chose not to yield to political pressure, the match was abandoned, and the series moved on to Barbados. Jackman was recalled in place of the injured Bob Willis and claimed five wickets in the match, including Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and Clive Lloyd. However, he was unable to prevent West Indies claiming a 298-run win for an unassailable 2-0 lead.
After retirement, Jackman moved into the media, and became a regular commentator for the South African broadcaster Supersport. In 2012, he was diagnosed with throat cancer, having already undergone two operations to remove malignant tumours from his vocal chords.
He passed away at 3.30pm South Africa time on Christmas Day, and is survived by his wife Yvonne and two daughters. His death comes just 48 hours after that of his former Surrey team-mate John Edrich, who died aged 83 on December 23.
The ICC reacted to the news in a statement: 'We are saddened to learn about the death of legendary commentator and former England bowler Robin Jackman, who has passed away aged 75. The thoughts of the cricketing world go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.'
In a statement on Boxing Day, CSA's interim board described Jackman as "a household voice for all who loved and followed cricket", and South Africa will wear black armbands in his memory on the second day of their Test against Sri Lanka.
"Always passionate and knowledgeable, he was also known for his big-hearted enjoyment of life. In 2012 he was diagnosed with cancer of the vocal chords. He continued commentating for a while and was also very actively involved in fundraising for the Mercy Ships and Grace Vision.
"His passing, a few days after the death of his former Surrey team-mate, John Edrich, leaves a void in the cricketing world but particularly in South African cricketing life. We mourn the loss of a fine man, a lover of life, a cricket aficionado and a commentator who became part of the fabric of South African cricket in so many ways."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket