Cape Town - Legendary South African cricketer Norman Gordon passed away in Johannesburg on Tuesday, at the age of 103.
died peacefully at around 02:00 this morning, in his Hillbrow flat where
he had lived for over 60 years," close friend and former Test cricketer
Ali Bacher said.
"He was a person who lived a very full life. His
passion was for cricket and then golf and he always felt so privileged
and appreciative of the wonderful people he had met."
represented South Africa in five Test matches in the 1938-39 season, and
had been the last remaining cricketer who played in the "Timeless" Test
against England in Durban in March 1939.
The famous match
spanned 10 days and still ended in a draw. Gordon was in the middle of
bowling his 93rd over when the teams finally decided to call it a day as
the England team had to dash to catch the mail boat home.
92.2 eight-ball overs bowled in that Test, which equated to a mammoth
738 balls, still stands as the most number of balls bowled by a fast
bowler in a Test match.
Gordon finished the five-match series as
the leading wicket-taker with 20 scalps with his tireless and accurate,
fast swing bowling. His Test career ended prematurely with the start of
World War II.
Born Jewish, when he ran in to bowl the first ball
in his Test debut in Johannesburg in December 1938, a heckler from the
crowd shouted out: “Here comes the rabbi!”
“Fortunately I took
five wickets in that innings,” Gordon recalled in a 2011 interview, “and
that shut him up for the rest of the tour.”
After the war ended,
Gordon continued playing a handful of domestic games for Transvaal
until 1949 and finished his career with 126 wickets from 29 first-class
Nicknamed “Mobil” for the way he greased down his hair, Gordon was born in Boksburg on August 6, 1911.
he celebrated his 100th birthday in 2011, at a lavish function at the
Wanderers, he was the only Test cricketer ever to have reached the
milestone. His nearest rival, New Zealand's Eric Tindill, passed away in
August 2010, four months before his 100th birthday.
centenary celebrations, hosted by Bacher, Gordon received a red-carpet
welcome and a guard-of-honour from former South African fast bowling
greats Peter Pollock, Mike Procter, Fanie de Villiers, Shaun Pollock,
Makhaya Ntini and the late Neil Adcock.
He practised as an
accountant part-time until the age of 94. A keen golfer until he was 96,
he scored a hole-in-one at the age of 87. He was made an honorary
member of the Houghton Golf Club where he could often be seen during the
In November 2010 he received an unexpected visit there from Brian Lara. Both recalled their meeting with pleasure.
Gordon said: "I was so pleased to meet him and I couldn’t believe how modest he was."
who had been notified of Gordon's death, recalled: "I was very keen to
meet him; we share the same two passions, cricket and golf. I don't know
if he was told I was coming but, with no hesitation, the minute we met
he voiced my name.
"That was a humbling experience. His
appreciation for the game still reigns and his knowledge of the changes
in the game since the last Test he played brought a smile to my face."
Gordon is survived by his son Brian who took care of him until his death.