Vogler, Symcox: SA’s ‘Agars’

2013-07-12 14:28
Pat Symcox (File)
Cape Town – The late Bert Vogler and Pat Symcox, aged 53 but long retired, are South Africa’s best answers to Australian teenage, tail-end batting sensation Ashton Agar.

Last-wicket partnerships and feats by No 11 batsmen in Tests are the talk of the cricket planet at present following debutant Agar’s extraordinary, record-smashing innings of 98 in the first Ashes Test against England at Trent Bridge.

His massively revitalising first-innings stand of 163 for the Baggy Greens with established batsman Phil Hughes, from a parlous 117 for nine, is also guaranteed its place now in folklore.

South Africa doesn’t come terribly close statistically to matching either Agar’s individual effort at the very bottom of the order or, indeed, the weight of his alliance for the final wicket with Hughes.

Still, as far as individual landmarks by No 11s in Tests are concerned, our country can at least sport a “top-fiver” in the form of Vogler (fifth itself), and occupancy of 10th position by Symcox on the list of best scores by the last man across all Test-playing nations.

Agar bumped out West Indies’ Tino Best (95, also against England at Edgbaston in 2012) from his loftiest perch and into second.

Vogler, who died just after World War II in 1946, registered 62 not out from the No 11 berth in a Newlands Test against England in March 1906.   

Symcox, however, has provided South Africa’s best knock in that position in the more modern, post-isolation era, courtesy of his 54 in a drawn Test against Australia at Adelaide in February 1998.

Ironically it was the only occasion in 27 Test innings in which Symcox actually batted at the very tail of the order – he was normally good enough to do duty as a No 8 or 9, as evidenced by his decent Test average of 28.50 and registering of a famous century once against Pakistan at the Wanderers when he and a raw Mark Boucher turned around a ropey innings with a huge ninth-wicket stand in 1997/98.

That occasion at Adelaide Oval may go down, too, as one of the deepest batting line-ups ever assembled by South Africa: the Nos 7-11 were Jonty Rhodes, Brian McMillan, Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Symcox (although wicketkeeper Dave Richardson had admittedly operated as a No 6 night-watchman).

South Africa are much further off the radar as far as highest 10th wicket record partnerships are concerned: our best only occupies 16th position in history.

That was pretty recent -- the unbeaten 107 posted by AB de Villiers (278 not out) and Morne Morkel (35 not out) against a tiring Pakistani attack in Abu Dhabi in November 2010.

The Proteas got close to the 600-mark, batting first in a drawn clash, before sounding the declaration bell.

The only other time that South Africa have notched 100 runs or more for the last wicket was at Headingley in 1929 when century-maker Tuppy Owen-Smith and No 11 Sandy Bell (26 not out) posted 103 against England.

In terms of best knocks by No 11s on debut, where Agar has also rewritten the record books, South Africa’s own premier player, Isipingo-born Percy Sherwell (22 not out, against England at Johannesburg in January 1906) fits in at joint-17th place globally with Australia’s Ian Callen, whom some may remember had a stint with Boland as a lower-order all-rounder in the 1980s.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    pat symcox  |  cricket

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