Former Border cricketer dies

2011-07-24 19:50

East London - Former Border cricketer Walter Rochfort "Wally" Chalmers has died in Cape Town at the age of 76.

Chalmers was a left-handed batsman and slow left-arm bowler, who, according to team-mate Robin Thorne, possessed a loop, fine flight, spun the ball well and had a very good arm ball.

"He was certainly the best left-arm spinner I came across and I, and many others, considered him to be the best left arm spinner in South Africa," Thorne said.

"But his fielding left a lot to be desired," he added.

Thorne recalled a match played at the Jan Smuts ground in the B section of the Currie Cup in early 1959.

A victory was important for Border as they were in the running for promotion to the A section the following season. EP scored 276 but Border collapsed and were all out for 160, a deficit of 116 runs.

But some superb medium-paced bowling by Athol Hagemann (6-30) saw the visitors dismissed for 86, leaving Border 202 to win.

It looked all over as Border lost five wickets for 43 when Thorne went to the wicket.

Border skipper Keith Kirton and Thorne then added 100 for the sixth wicket and when the ninth wicket fell, Border required 28 to win when Chalmers arrived at the wicket.

"Though he only made three not out, Wally was the real hero," recalled Thorne, as the last-wicket pair reached their target to win by one wicket.

Thorne scored 45 not out and Border later gained promotion.

Chalmers was educated at Dale College in King William's Town and was selected for the Border Schools team in 1951 and gained selection for the SA Nuffield team at the end of the tournament.

He also represented Orange Free State in seven matches between 1960 and 1963 and he played one final first-class match for Western Province in 1963/64.

He had limited exposure to international teams but, against Peter May's touring MCC team of 1956/57, he took 5-133 as the visitors scored 400 for eight wickets declared in their first innings.

His victims included Trevor Bailey, Brian Taylor, Alan Oakman and Colin Cowdrey.

Against Australia the following summer, he took 2-40 off 17 overs, getting rid of top-scorer Peter Burge and Alan Davidson.

He had little success against New Zealand in 1961/62 when he was playing for Orange Free State.

Chalmers, who died after a battle with cancer, enjoyed other sports including angling, tennis, soccer and swimming.

In 48 first-class matches between 1951 and 1964, Chalmers scored 181 runs (average 4.89) and captured 167 wickets (24.41) with a best of 6-55, with nine five-wicket hauls.