Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2006

Setting the records straight

Matthew Engel and Andrew Samson

Hundreds of other gifted cricketers from South Africa were less fortunate than Basil D'Oliveira who came over to England © The Cricketer International

Wisden has long been opposed to retrospective changes to cricket statistics. We do not even feel comfortable about umpires' signals being countermanded by the endless scrutiny of video evidence. We certainly do not offer encouragement to researchers burrowing round for long-lost leg-byes. And when the ICC, without a moment's thought, ruled in 1993 that the rebel tours of South Africa years earlier should not be regarded as first-class, we concluded that this whimsical and belated antiapartheid gesture was too pathetic to obey.

Circumstances, however, do alter cases. And there is one consequence of South Africa's troubled history that is too significant to ignore, and must be put right. The main cricketing effect of the apartheid policy - and the informal discrimination that preceded it - was to deny generations of black players the opportunity to test their talent to its uttermost, which is the essence of all sport.

Those in power at the time put it about that non-white South Africans were not interested in cricket which was, at best, a quarter-truth, and that those who did play were no good, which was palpably false. The career of Basil D'Oliveira - who escaped from a country where he was regarded as second class to play 44 Tests for England - was proof of that. Hundreds of other gifted cricketers were less fortunate.

Other evidence came from the handful of matches permitted against white teams. In 1960-61, for instance, S. A. Haque's XI beat John Waite's XI by 20 runs in a two-day match in Johannesburg. Waite's team contained nine current or future Test players.

The history is a tangled one. From the mid-1970s white teams were permitted to integrate, and indeed tried to lure non-whites, but by then political activists, at home and abroad, opposed the moves. And it was not until the 1990s, with the complete abolition of apartheid, the release of Nelson Mandela and the formation of the United Cricket Board (UCB) that the racial divide in South African cricket ended, and the country was readmitted to the ICC.

For 20 years before that, from 1971-72, three-day matches were played in the provincial competition organised by the South African Cricket Board (SACB). The UCB said these matches should have first-class status, but it has taken some time for researchers to piece together the scores well enough to make it possible to amend the records. A total of 223 matches were retrospectively made first-class, comprising 216 in the provincial competition (variously known as the Dadabhay Trophy, SFW Trophy and Howa Bowl) and seven representative matches. Wisden has now incorporated these changes.

The records section of the almanack, which filters only a small sample of cricket's ocean of statistics, is hardly altered, although Rohan Kanhai, who played in South Africa for a time in the 1970s, climbs from 64th to 63rd in the all-time run-scoring list. There are also two extra instances of handled the ball, and the first-ever case (out of four in cricket history) of timed out: by Andrew Jordaan for Eastern Province v Transvaal at Port Elizabeth in 1987-88. He had been not out overnight, but was late next morning because the roads were bad after a downpour. There are three cases of wicketkeepers making seven dismissals in an innings, raising the all-time total to 68.

Since the pitches were often poor, scores were generally low: Kanhai's 188 not out for Transvaal v Eastern Province at Lenasia in 1974-75 was the highest individual score. And there were only six totals of over 400, the highest being 436 for 6 declared, but 87 below 100.

The flip side of this are some notable bowling figures, with Vincent Barnes - now South Africa's assistant coach - providing the best, 9 for 46 for Western Province v Natal at Ladysmith in 1983-84. Barnes was the leading wicket-taker with 304 wickets, while Yacoob Omar was the leading runscorer with 3,377.

A total of 45 existing first-class cricketers have had their career records altered. Five are Test or international players: their amended records appear on page 240. A further 398 players should now be regarded as first-class. Leading players in SACB matches now considered first-class were:

Batsman Matches Innings NO Runs/Avg HS 100/50
Y Omar (Natal) 58 103 6 3377/34.81 174 8/11
K Majola (EP) 87 148 12 2826/20.77 80 0/12
H Lorgat (EP/Tvl) 76 126 12 2183/24.67 121 3/12
S Magiet (WP) 67 105 14 2650/29.12 128 3/15
M Abdullah (Tvl/WP) 54 83 3 2294/28.67 109 3/12
MM Khan (Natal) 76 133 12 2291/18.93 101* 1/6
GB Cuddumbey (EP) 66 120 9 2235/20.13 106 2/9
S Gabriels (Tvl/WP) 67 109 10 2161/21.82 101* 1/14
F Timol (Natal) 48 86 4 2109/25.71 109 1/12

Bowler Matches Balls Runs Wkts/Avg BB 5/10
VA Barnes (Tvl/WP) 61 10,266 3383 304/11.12 9-46 24/6
S Gabriels (Tvl/WP) 67 10,852 3830 254/15.07 8-53 17/5
MM Khan (Natal) 76 11,949 4777 248/19.26 7-106 12/1
A Jabaar (Tvl/WP) 57 9662 3121 233/13.39 7-38 14/3
K Majola (EP) 87 9792 3645 219/16.64 8-96 11/0
S Draai (EP) 48 7873 2506 212/11.82 6-21 14/3
AA Manack (Tvl/WP) 42 7654 2979 200/14.89 7-17 12-1

© John Wisden & Co Ltd.