Joseph Titus Partridge
Goofy AND Joe — what a formidable strike force! That cricketing tribute refers to the truly magnificent contemporary pair of opening bowlers, Godfrey Lawrence and Joe Partridge, who enriched Rhodesian cricket with their class and characters from the mid-1950s for a memorable decade.
Both went on — albeit belatedly — to become distinguished Springboks in the Test arena, while for Rhodesia they carved out bowling records that will long remain.
When he retired from first-class cricket after the 1966-67 season. Partridge had played 56 times for Rhodesia and had captured 281 wickets at an average of 19,0. Only Lawrence took more wickets (296 wickets in 66 games at 17,29) bu1 then he bowled 1 500 more overs. Leg-spinner Jackie du Preez is third in the lisl with 279 wickets in a record 113 matches.
Partridge underscored his perennial value by taking five wickets in an innings on eighteen occasions (equalling Percy Mansell's tally and beating Lawrence's by five). He also twice took ten wickets in a match (equalling the same achievement by Mike Procter but not that of Mansell who performed this feat five times. In eleven Test matches in which he played for South Africa (five against Australia in Australia in 1963-64, three against New Zealand in New Zealand in the same year and three against England in South Africa in 1964-65) he took forty-four wicket's for an average of 31,20 runs. Highlighting his all-too-brief international career Joe - who endeared himself to the crowd - took seven wickets for ninety-one runs in the fifth Test against Australia at Sydney.
Joseph Titus Partridge was born at Bulawayo on 9 December 1932 and was educated first at Jameson High School Gatooma, and then at Umtali Boys' High where he was coached by the headmaster Ken Fleming, and represented Manicaland while still at school. He also played rugby and hockey and was captain of the school boxing team.
But cricket was his game and he made his first-class debut for Rhodesia at the age of nineteen, against Border in 1951-52 when, for the first time, the Currie Cup was split into two sections with Rhodesia in the B Section. Partridge only played in one match that season, opening the attack with Charles Wooler, who was back from a spell as an English professional. But the bespectacled 'Joe' immediately made an impression as an outstanding prospect, taking 2-11 in 10 overs in the first innings.
In his first full season for Rhodesia in 1952-53 Partridge established his class with 33 wickets at 19,06 to finish ninth in the combined A and B Section averages, topping the Rhodesian figures. He had clean bowled 13 of his victims with his inspired in-swing. Against Griqualand West at Salisbury, Partridge, after conceding 50 runs without a wicket, returned for a third spell to finish with 7-85 in 21,2 overs. Rhodesia won by six wickets with T. Chapman scoring his maiden century.
It was during this season that Partridge and Lawrence first launched their dangerous twin-pronged attack — they opened against North-Eastern Transvaalwhen Partridge led Rhodesia to a nine-wicket victory with 3-79 and 4-15. Although the match against Transvaal was lost by 10 wickets, Partridge had the distinction of taking 6-87 in 25 overs, including the prized scalp of Eric Rowan for nine.
In 1953-54 Geoff Rabone's New Zealander's visited Southern Africa but this was the only first-class game played by Rhodesia during that season, when David Lewis led the country for the first time. The match, at Bulawayo Queens Ground, ended in a draw, with Partridge the best of the home bowlers with 3-56 and 3-50 and the boisterous Ron Coventry, in his first game, hitting a delightful 63 after collecting 22 runs from the first over he faced.
There was more frustration for Rhodesia in 1954-55 when they finished second in the B Section to miss promotion which would have brought top-class competition. But the Rhodesians, led by the shrewd and inspiring David Lewis, were unstoppable in 1955-56, winning all six games outright for a maximum of 36 points to gain promotion. Still there was a delay as there was no Currie Cup for the following two seasons because of tours from Australia and the MCC.
By the time Rhodesia made their A Section debut in 1958-59 they had lost some of their stalwarts, namely Jeremy Baldwin and Dennis O'Connell-Jones, who had made significant contributions to the promotion era. Partridge was dropped for the Newlands match, but was recalled for the final match of the season against Western Province at Salisbury and promptly took 6-40 in 27,2 overs in the second innings. Rhodesia, with the most powerful team in their history, finished third in the A Section, just three points behind the winners, Transvaal, who had so nearly been beaten outright at Salisbury. Had Rhodesia clinched that victory they would have won the A Section on debut... but it was not to be.
Border were promoted to the A Section for 1959-60, but did not have the resources to cope. In the match against Rhodesia at Bulawayo the Border batsmen were hopelessly at sea against the attacking 'benders' bowled by Partridge, who recorded the outstanding innings analysis of seven wickets for nine runs in 12,1 overs.
The 1961-62 season was one of Partridge's finest On a rain-affected pitch at Salisbury, he ripped through Natal's batting with his career best of 8-69 in 19 overs in the first innings, followed by 6-32 in the second innings for the magnificent match analysis of 14-101. Rhodesia recorded their first victory ever over Natal by eight wickets inside two days.
New Zealand led by John Reid, toured that season and drew with Rhodesia at Bulawayo, Partridge claiming 4-80 and 5-52 to prove his international class in a match where Bland stroked a flawless 91 and the controversial Geoff Griffin made his debut for Rhodesia. The Kiwis also drew their match at Salisbury.
An international-class Commonwealth XI toured in February 1962 and at Nkana on the Copperbelt, in the days of the Federation, Partridge took 5-52 and 2-39. Against the distinguished tourists at Bulawayo, Joe was again the most successful home bowler with 4-54 and 3-69, claiming the wickets of Basil d'Oliveira and the legendary Hanif Mahommed (twice). A little later, playing for a Rhodesian Invitation XI that included Jackie McGlew and Denis Lindsay, Partridge took 3-71 and 5-42. The Commonwealth XI were beaten by five wickets. In that match the home team faced a formidable attack which included Ray Lindwall and Sonny Ramadhin.
In the 1962-63 season, Partridge surpassed all his previous efforts to force himself into Springbok contention with 64 wickets in 11 matches to eclipse Jackie Botten's 1958-59 Southern African first-class record. The big hearted Rhodesian was selected as one of the 1963 South African Cricketers of the Year and headed the B Section averages at an amazingly low 11,62 per wicket.
The Springbok selectors could not ignore him now and Partridge was duly chosen for South Africa's fourth tour of Australasia in the 1963-64 season. Included in Trevor Goddard's team were the Pithey brothers Tony and David and a fourth Rhodesian, Colin Bland. It was also the great Graeme Pollock's debut tour.
It was a belated but deserved opportunity for Partridge who had been at the peak of his career in the mid-1950s when Heine and Adcock held sway for South Africa. The modest Rhodesian played in his first Test at the age of thirty-one and actually appeared in all eight Tests on tour. He became the first bowler on tour to take 50 wickets in all matches when he claimed nine victims in the third Aussie Test.
Just why Joe Partridge was ignored for so long by the Springbok selectors was a source of constant amazement among the cognoscenti of Rhodesian cricket. They knew his value, but the problem was to convince the selectors.
Partridge was, of course, a new boy in 1952-53 when a thin South African attack in Australia included such bowlers as Anton Murray. Michael Melle and Eddie Fuller. Then came the 1960 tour to England when Rhodesia let Partridge down by dropping him for the final Currie Cup game against Western Province on account of the strange theory that he couldn't bowl at sea level In the event. Western Province's Jimmy Pothecary went to England but no serious student of the game would seriously suggest that he was the equal of Partridge as a seam bowler in all conditions. It was argued that in England, county batsmen were so used to the in-swinger that it would be a waste of time taking Partridge.
So the Rhodesian developed a leg-cutter to compare with Alec Bedser in his heyday. Yet still he was ignored for the Test arena, the selectors preferring to rely on faster but less accurate bowlers such as Graham Bunyard. When they did eventually look to Rhodesia for an opening bowler the choice fell on the majestic Godfrey Lawrence, who was an outstanding success in the 1961 -62 series against New Zealand.
But eventually the persistent Partridge forced his way into a Springbok touring team through sheer performance and weight of overseas opinion. The players of every touring side that played against Partridge rated him highly and could not understand why he was left out of so many Test teams.
One of his greatest performances was bowling to England master-batsman Tom Graveney, on tour in Rhodesia with the Cavaliers. Partridge forced this splendid attacking batsman into a desperate defensive shell for well over an hour. On another occasion, in 1962-63. a Commonwealth XI on tour included Rohan Kanhai, Chester Watson and Wes Hall of the West Indies.
It was a Rhodesian Invitation XI — including Buster Farrer and the eighteen year-old Graeme Pollock — that beat the visitors by 74 runs in a memorable Salisbury match. The Pitheys, Bland, Haig and Farrer were in tremendous form and Rhodesia declared at 338-5. Commonwealth were out for 239 and Rhodesia declared at 206-5 with a lead of 305. Yet again, magnificent bowling by Partridge and Lawrence, eventually with five and three wickets respectively, had a strong batting line-up in dire trouble — four wickets were down for 48 runs. Then came one of the finest innings ever seen in Rhodesia by Kanhai, who, with good support from d'Oliveira, helped the tourists to a final total of 231. Kanhai's 110 was scored in 113 minutes and included 11 fours and a six. It was a majestic innings against fine bowling that will never be forgotten by those fortunate to see it.
In March 1963 Cavaliers' captain Richie Benaud made Partridge the subject of a special article he cabled to the Sun in Sydney. Reporting that the Rhodesian had twice routed the Cavaliers he wrote: "It was one of the most impressive swing bowling performances I have seen for a long time and produced before two of the national selectors should have enabled 'Jo Jo' to at least put a pair of socks and shirts into his touring kitbag.
"I batted against him for two hours and hardly hit a ball in the middle of the bat. Norman O'Neill, who began in tremendous form, made his last 25 runs from the inside edge of the bat after attempted cover drives had repeatedly flown between the leg slips."
Partridge played his last three Tests in the 1964-65 home series against England. He bowled well in the first Test at Durban after recovering from bilharzia and played again in the second Test at Johannesburg. He was dropped for Cape Town but recalled for the fourth Test on an unhelpful Wanderers pitch and dropped again just before the side was chosen to tour England.
Partridge knew he was in the twilight of his career and after the 1965-66 season he made up his mind to retire at the age of thirty-three. "What really made up my mind was the continual Christmas trip away from my wife and family," he said at the time. "I've only had three Christmases at home in the fifteen years I have played for Rhodesia."
But Partridge was to have one final short fling with four matches in the 1966-67 season, in which he took 13 wickets at 20,46 apiece. His last first-class appearance for Rhodesia was against Eastern Province at Port Elizabeth in February 1967 when he captured 6-20 in the second innings, including Graeme Pollock, first ball. Pollock had plundered 134 not out in the first innings and despite Joe's 8-55 in the match and Jackie du Preez's maiden first-class century, Rhodesia lost by one wicket.
A swing bowler of remarkable control and stamina, Joe Partridge would always relish bowling long after his colleagues had wilted. He was indeed a memorable character and one of his nation's greatest cricketers and sportsmen.
Career Figures for Rhodesia
Balls: 14 006
Runs: 5 340
Not Out: 26
More than 30 wickets in o season on five occasions - a record These were:
Lowest average for Rhodesia in 1962 and 1966.
Best Innings Bowling Analysis
Venue: East London
Opponents: North Eastern Transvaal
Opponents: Eastern Province
Venue: Port Elizabeth
Best Match Bowling Analysis
Total appearances: 56. Total wickets: 281 (second in all-time list after Lawrence - 296).
Test Cricket - For South Africa
Total Tests: 11 (5 v. Australia in Australia 1963-64;
3 v. New Zealand in New Zealand 1963-64;
3 v. England in South Africa 1964-65).
Best bowling: Fifth Test v. Australia at Sydney (7-91).
Not Out:: 5
Highest Score: 13
5 WI: 3
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