Former SA bowler Adcock dies

2013-01-06 12:19

Cape Town - One of South Africa’s greatest fast bowlers, Neil Adcock, died early on Sunday morning in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, aged 81.

Cricket South Africa reported he died of from pneumonia after suffering from bowel cancer for a long period of time. He is survived by his wife Maureen.

“Adcock emerged in the early fifties and became South Africa’s first world-class, genuine fast bowler,” former cricketer and friend Ali Bacher said.

“It was also around that time the Springbok cricket team became recognised as a force in international cricket for the first time and one of the reasons was because of the opening pair of fast bowlers in Adcock and Peter Heine.”

Adcock attended Jeppe High School in Johannesburg and was one of the last of a long line of famous South African cricketers - Eric and Athol Rowan, Jock Cameron and centenarian Norman Gordon to name but a few - produced by the school.

South Africa played Test cricket for the first time in 1889 and it took nearly 60 years to produce its first real quick.

Adcock played 26 Tests for South Africa, taking 104 wickets at an average of 21.10. He took five five-wicket hauls with an innings best return of 6/43 against Australia, in January 1958 in Durban.

His best bowling was in England in 1960 where, despite South Africa losing the series 3-0, he took 26 wickets in five Tests at an average of 22.57 - with a best of 6/65 at the Oval.

As a result of that tour, he was named as one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year in 1961. However, to tour England, Adcock had to take unpaid leave for almost four months and, as a result, lost his job.

He moved from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg where he eventually ran a very successful travel agency.

“I first played against him in 1960/61 when he was playing for Natal and Eddie Barlow and I were just starting out with Transvaal,” said Bacher.

“I can honestly say he was the quickest bowler I ever faced throughout my career, locally or internationally, until I stopped playing in 1974.”

In 1957/58, Australia, led by Ian Craig, beat South Africa 3-0, despite the hosts being the favourites to win the five-Test tour.

The final Test was played in Port Elizabeth and Australia only needed 68 runs to win. Opening batsmen Colin McDonald and Jim Burke were reputed to have said they had never faced such fast, hostile bowling ever before as they did from both Adcock and Heine in that second innings.

“When I met Colin in Melbourne in 1993, we had a chat about that Test and he confirmed it,” Bacher said.

“Whether or not it was out of sheer frustration at the batsmen or at the way the series had gone, he said he had never been subjected to such extraordinarily hostile and quick bowling before - the likes of which had not been seen from a South African before.”

Post retirement, Adcock did a lengthy period as a radio commentator with Charles Fortune and also became an articulate and amusing after-dinner speaker.

“He could tell a cricket story better than anyone. He had a real flair for it,” Bacher said.

“There was nothing better, after a hard day’s play, than to sit down with a beer and hear Neil’s legendary cricket stories which got better and better each time he told them.”


  • tommy.rinrin - 2013-01-06 12:41

    Legend! R.I.P

      wendy.tolchard.1 - 2013-01-06 13:41

      Thanks Tommy. In spite of all his cricketing achievements, Neil remained a very humble man and will be well missed by many people. From Maureen Adcock

      tommy.rinrin - 2013-01-06 13:59

      thank you very much for your comment, he really had achieved allot. Great bowling figures, are there any video archives of Sir Neil in action?

  • Kombisa - 2013-01-06 12:54

    Your name will go down in history as a legendary sportsman. You will be solely missed by many. You lived your life well, say they say anything above 75 years is a bonus. RIP.

      wendy.tolchard.1 - 2013-01-06 13:43

      Thank you Kombisa. It's great to know how well people remember him from all those years ago.From Maureen Adcock

  • sean.bagley.50 - 2013-01-06 13:57

    Fiery,rampant & legendary fast bowler Neil Adcock RIP.

  • eidel.bock - 2013-01-06 13:58

    What a cricketer and gentleman he was, a true legend. Played because of the love of the game and lost his job in the process. Just imagine if he was a young cricketer today.

  • ianthe.exall - 2013-01-06 14:05

    He epitomised everything that was good in SA cricket. A credit to the game and a true sportsman in every sense of the word.

  • Sibusiso - 2013-01-06 14:23

    He achieved whatever he managed to achieve because of the colour of his skin.Those who did not hav the same colour as him were never recognised.They could not even represent their country anywhere in the world.Many of his black contemporaries could only dream of playing for SA.Some even left for other countries where they were treated as human beings.RIP apartheid hero!

      Derek - 2013-01-06 14:38

      why is their always one person that has to bring the colour of skin into this?? Did you know the man or know of the man? If you did, you would not post such a stupid comment!!

      colingkearns - 2013-01-06 14:58

      Sibusiso get this, he was not a politician he was a cricketer. Get over yourself and the chip on your shoulder, I think your comment is summed up by your profile picture of you in your traditional dress " Zulu Kilt "

      Sibusiso - 2013-01-06 15:22

      Apartheid was implemented from 1948 to 1994 by the NP.My grandfather was not a politician either.He was a keen sportsman who never got anywhere,not because he was not talented but because he was black.On the other hand ,your hero ,his contemporary ,was given an edge over others.I wonder if he ever acknowledged that he was a beneficiary of the racist apartheid sport system of the Nats.

      lara.vanrooyen.1 - 2013-01-06 16:08

      Poor victim you will always be.

      des.maartens - 2013-01-06 18:11

      sibusiso, you troll

      sicelo.brukwe.9 - 2013-01-06 19:47

      Sbusiso you amazing boss and it seems like you laugh at Adcock Family instead of crying with them. Let me tell you something my family was and still the victims of apartheid and yet you will never hear me hating other people for our forefathers and their forefathers mistakes and the place that you chose to raise your points is an incorrect one because now its time for us to cry with this family not laugh at the so please try to get back to life and we will welcome you!!

      slp.mulligan - 2013-01-06 20:53

      Sorry Jaycee, but you're wrong. But you and Sibusiso should do this some other time and some other place. Poor taste by both of you.

      Sibusiso - 2013-01-06 21:23

      When the ANC insisted that people should desist from criticising Manto while she had not been buried.The ANC said it was un-African.There was an outcry.Many pointed out that the truth regardless of whether Manto was buried or not.I think the same logic should apply here.I'm not criticising the man himself.It's just that many of our white compatriots just won't even acknowledge just how much racist policies of the past underdeveloped Blacks.

      Sibusiso - 2013-01-06 21:28

      It's clear now that in this country the biggest crime one can ever commit is to talk about the past.You do so ,u are called all sorts of names incl 'victim mentality'.I have done wonderful things with my life and I don't receive handouts from anyone incl the govt.

  • Derek - 2013-01-06 14:44

    RIP Neil Adcock. A true gentleman. Being an old Marizburg boy, I remember the good old days plays cricket against my good friend Alan Adcock and popping in to Adcock's Travel Agency for a visit! My sincere condolences to the family. Derek Milne

      alan.adcock.5 - 2013-01-06 19:00

      Thank Derek. I do remember those cricket days from years ago. Do hope you are well these days. Kindest Regards Alan Adcock.

      mmmarwick1971 - 2013-01-06 21:19

      Hi Alan. So sorry to hear about your dad - his voice was such a presence throughout my boyhood, listening to his commentary many weekends each summer. BTW a friend of mine in the UK is a statistician for amongst others Wisden and when I mentioned to him via email this afternoon that you had been a fast bowler (as I recall) in the '82 First XI, he said that he would mention that in the obit he was writing - but also wanted to know other personal/family details, if I was able to contact you at all (I was chuffed to see your post just now). Pls mail me some stuff at Once again, sorry for your loss. Matthew

      mmmarwick1971 - 2013-01-06 21:36

      Sorry - my mail address is

  • pete.vanderspek - 2013-01-06 15:37

    When I was young (er) I listened to the radio and marveled at the cricketers of yesteryear! Man, they were legends. We couldn't afford to go to cricket games so the radio filled in. Neil Adcock was one of those legends. R.I.P. Neil - thanks for the memories. To the idiots that will always blame apartheid and days long gone, get a life - a new life and move on for goodness sake! Leave colour out of every situation and we will all get on much better!

  • sicelo.brukwe.9 - 2013-01-06 19:31

    Adcock rest in peace homey and when I read this article I could not help tears from falling on my eyes because you paved a good way for South African Cricket!!

  • slp.mulligan - 2013-01-06 20:59

    I never saw him play, but my dad did and he always speaks with great respect of Adcock and Heine as an awesome pair in the mould of Pollock and Procter, Donald and Pollock, Pollock and Ntini, and now the trio of Steyn, Morkel and Philander. Adcock is a giant of our game.

      alan.adcock.5 - 2013-01-06 22:52

      I just want say to how touched and humbled my sister and I are, at all the extremely kinds words about our Dad's life and his passing.

  • jonathan.jordaan.33 - 2013-01-06 21:15

    Very sad news. Neil and Maureen were our neighbors when I was growing up. What a fantastic couple and Neil was always the perfect gentleman. My condolences to Maureen and family.

  • womba.wonder - 2013-01-07 01:58

    Adcock and Heine. Peter Pollock and Procter. Le Roux and Jefferies. Donald and Shaun Pollock. Steyn and Morkel --- paired legends of fast bowling down the ages.

  • Oliver.Niemandt - 2013-01-07 09:02

    I am posting this on behalf of my Dad , Andre, who followed this great man in his heyday. As a youngster I , Andre, used to trek up to what was then still the Jan Smuts stadium in PMB to watch Neil play cricket . I especially remember a game against NZ when during the warm up Neil was bowling on the side of the field to one of his team mates and he sent down one of his sizzlers that went straight through a window in the pavilion. Man I was impressed . He was a hero to me as a schoolboy. Years later when I decided to go overseas I went to his travel agency in Timber Street to book my ticket and hopefully catch sight of the great man a chat with him, which I frequently had the privilege to do. This happened because he used to employ lovely ladies and I used the excuse of checking up on my ticket to chat to these ladies. I can still see his smile every time he caught me sitting idly chatting to one of his ladies and using up their working time but never a word of reprimand. He was a man and understood. R I P Neil.

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