Friday, 17 February 2012

William Raymond Amm

"Amm killed by skid in Italian motor cycle gold cup race" — that was the front-page headline in the Rhodesia Herald on 12 April 1955. which stunned the nation.

For Ray Amm, a fearless rider who put the country's name at the forefront of the sporting world, was truly one of Rhodesia's most famous sons.

The fateful day was 11 April 1955, at Imola, when Amm's 350 cc four- cylinder MV Augusta, in second place, skidded and crashed into a steel standard on the 22nd lap of the Italian Gold Cup.

Eye witnesses said that at first it appeared that he was in control of his machine as it skidded, but he careered into the pole and was rushed to hospital, where he died twenty minutes later.Amm was just twenty-seven and it was his first race for the famous Italian MV firm, though he was already known and respected throughout the racing world for his expertise as the number one works rider for British Norton. In just four years on the overseas circuit he had built a record of spectacular successes and wasacknowledged as one of the worlds leading Grand Prix riders.

He was never a world champion, though he was the first Rhodesian to venture to Europe and he sparked the country's remarkable record in international motor cycling — an incredible eight world titles between Gary Hocking (2) and Jim Redman (6).

News of Amm's death brought widespread grief. At Imola a crowd of about 1 000 gathered at the hospital for the procession which took the body to a candlelit chapel, where ten motor cycle mechanics, in blue overalls, kept vigil all night.

Thousands of people lined the streets of Imola in silent tribute when Amm's body left by car for Rome, from where it was flown to his beloved Rhodesia for burial.

People of all ages and races mourned at Amm's funeral, illustrating his immense popularity. The Salisbury Baptist Church was packed and scores stood outside in tribute. The service was relayed to the streets by loudspeakers and the Rev. Sidney Hudson-Reed said: "He earned national and international honoursand procured a multitude of friends and admirers." We are gathered to recognise the honour which Ray Amm has brought to his country, not only in his achievements but much more in the manner of his achieving them."

Amm's most notable triumphs came in 1953 at the rugged and mountainous Isle of Man — the toughest test on two wheels — where he won both the Senior (500 cc) and Junior (350 cc) world championship Tourist Trophy races.

Not only was he the first overseas rider to win an international TT, but in making it a double he accomplished a feat achieved by only four other riders at that time. They were P. Hunt (1931), S. Woods (1932 and 1933), A. Guthrie (1934) and the famous Geoff Duke (1951). Like Amm, all four had been mounted on Nortons.

Amm's average speeds of 93,85 mph (Senior) and 90,52 mph (Junior) broke Duke's TT records of 1951 and 1952 respectively, while at the time of his death the Rhodesian held the Isle of Man TT lap record of 97,41 mph.

He crowned his 1953 successes by winning the 350 cc and 500 cc internationals at a major meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

In 1952 Amm had won the Grand Prix of Nations for Norton, while in 1954 he took the chequered flag first in the Ulster Grand Prix and the German Grand Prix, finishing runner up that year to Duke in the 500 cc class and to Fergus Anderson in the 350 cc class of the world championships.

William Raymond Amm was born at Salisbury on 10 December 1927, and was educated at Prince Edward School. He started racing in 1946 at the age of nineteen and was schooled on the oiled-dirt surfaces of Coro Park in Salisbury, and Umgusa Speedway in Bulawayo. Among the riders of his day were Charlie Harrison, Phil Snyman, Colin Graves, Hymie Stanger, Jack Riley, and John Love who was then on bikes.

Riding a second-hand AJS which had cost him £90 Amm fell off five times in his first race, coming last. Despite this it was clear to the experts that 'Ammy had real class and the next season he bought and hotted-up a 500 cc Norton, and proceeded to break the lap records on every track in the country, in only his second year.

In 1948 he borrowed £300 from his grandmother and bought his first new Norton. He entered the gruelling Port Elizabeth 200 — the most severe test in South Africa — and came seventeenth. But he broke the lap record and people were taking notice of him.

He was invited to the prestigious Isle of Man meeting in 1949, but was unable to go, choosing instead to stay at home to marry his childhood sweetheart Jill Patton on 3 December 1949. The eighteen-year-old Salisbury girl was a keen motor cycle follower.

By now he was Rhodesia's leading rider and in 1950 again tackled the PE 200. This time, starting as scratch man, he came third and again broke the lap record. In the same year he bought another Norton and immediately broke the Coro Park lap record with a time of 1 min. 4,6 sec.

Another invitation to the Isle of Man followed and with a £100 grant from the Salisbury Motor Cycle Club, Amm sold his car and almost all his personal possessions, and in 1951 headed for adventure in England. Travelling with his wife in a caravan in England, he had enough money to buy two Nortons' and he entered both the Senior and Junior TTs, finishing ninth and twenty eighth — a good start on private machines against the world's crack riders and 'works' machines. During the whole season, his wife Jill — an experienced motorcyclist herself — acted as timekeeper.

Amm won the Swiss Grand Prix in 1951 and, just a year after his European debut, he was given a place in the Norton team alongside the great Geoff Duke in 1952. A year later when Duke turned to cars (he later switched back to bikes Gilera) Amm was made Norton team-leader.

He spent four months in Ireland helping to design and build the new streamlined Norton, two of which were made for him to his own specifications. In 1953, Amm agreed to accept a fee of £1 500 a year to ride for Norton, and promptly enhanced his own and the manufacturer's prestige by winning both major TT events.

He might well have repeated this feat in 1954. but after a clear-cut win in the Senior TT, he withdrew from the Junior event because of a mechanical fault

In the 1954 prestige Ulster Grand Prix, Amm defied wind and rain to record a distinction only once before achieved — he won both the 350 cc and 500 cc races. For his week's riding and for the TT races a fortnight earlier, he earned £500, plus expenses, on top of his salary from Norton.

The Rhodesian considered the undulating Manx circuit at the Isle of Man as the toughest in the world. "It is the supreme test for man and machine," he said. Ray Amm's attributes were a keen eye, split-second judgement and nerves of steel. In fact as a youngster he was often criticised for being 'too wild and daredevil'. He was, perhaps, overbold and aggressive at times and prone to gamble with his luck, but he matured into one of the world's great bikemen.

When he was criticised in England for his 'grass track style of riding' and for overplaying the use of his feet when cornering (a style which he proved to be successful), Amm quipped: "I grew up in the saddle . . . and a horse wasn't under it"

Amm's meteoric rise to fame overseas was proof that he was a brilliant rider. In the postwar 'gold rush' for motor cycle talent, the Rhodesian was one of the most shiny nuggets.

Rhodesia's first truly internationally known sportsman, Amm left Norton at the end of 1954 to attempt to become world champion on the powerful scarlet Italian MV Augustas. The Italian factories of MV, Gilera and Moto Guzzi had by 1953 ended Britain's half-century lead in motor cycling, and the championship hopes of individuals now lay with these potent machines.

But Amm's ambition was to end in tragedy at Imola at the outset of his challenge. On his death — Amm's parents heard about it on a BBC news broadcast — a tribute in the Belfast Telegraph said: "His fearless yet confident style of riding appealed to countless thousands. He was regarded as one of the most brilliant riders ever discovered by Ulsterman Joe Craig of Norton."

Until his death, Amm had only suffered two serious injuries on the track. He crashed in the German Grand Prix 'Solitude' near Stuttgart in 1953 and spent a month in hospital there with a back injury. And he crashed at Aintree, England, in 1954 and spent about a month recuperating at Geoff Duke's house at Southport near Liverpool. In 1952 Amm broke a leg, though this did not prevent him from riding in the Italian Grand Prix and winning it. . . with his leg in plaster.

A granite memorial, at first placed near the Coro Park track where he started his career, is now at Sable Comer of Salisbury's Donnybrook Park race-track. Here the name of a great Rhodesian,Ray Amm, is perpetuated.



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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Basil Kearns

Photo 09, Basil Kearns

Though he never rose to international acclaim — indeed there have been more illustrious Rhodesians in his sport - it is for his recognition as the epitome of a Rhodesian sportsman and gentleman that I have chosen to honour Basil Kearns among the famous personalities in these pages.

Polo was his passion from the time he first represented Bindura as a schoolboy to the time his life was tragically ended in April 1979, three weeks after being hit in the head by a bullet in an ambush.

The forty-one-year-old Mtepatepa (Bindura District) farmer's vehicle was ambushed as he travelled towards Salisbury to carry out duties as a Shona interpreter in the 1979 elections. Renowned for his fighting spirit and courage even as he lay critically wounded in his hospital bed, many of his friends believed that if any man could pull through, it would be he. But the odds were too great, and Rhodesia lost another top sportsman in the war.

Born at Bulawayo, Basil Kearns was educated at Michaelhouse in Natal and then at Gwebi Agricultural College near Salisbury. Though he was adroit at several sports - he played hockey for Natal Schools - his first love was always polo and he rose through the Bindura ranks to captain the district.

He went on to become an established member of the national Rhodesian side first in 1952 and finally in the triumphant Benson and Hedges series against South Africa in 1978. After a bad accident in 1972 he was out of polo for a long spell, but he fought back from the bottom, first with Rhodesia B and eventually reclaiming his full national number four position.

In 1966, he was the highest handicapped player (a six) in the country and featured in perhaps the most stirring Test yet played against the Springboks. This was at the Salisbury Sports Club North Avenue field when Kearns was at number two in a 21 -goal Rhodesian side made up of Gary Hensman (5). David Meikle (5) and Chris Kearns (5).

They faced a formidable South African 23-goal team of Ian de Gersigny Robin Wilson, Craig Brown and Buddy Chaplin. Twice Basil Kearns had to summon all his experience to equalise for Rhodesia at 2-2 then at 6-6. The score were locked at 7-7 with the Springboks pressing in the final few minutes when Rhodesian captain David Meikle picked up the ball near his own goal line and. in a belly-to-the-ground solo run, smacked through the winner to a standing ovation from the crowd of 1 500.

Kearns went on to captain Rhodesia in later internationals and his career included matches against Argentina, Peru, Uruguay and New Zealand, while he also played polo in Kenya and England, where he became friendly with the Duke of Edinburgh and actually unseated him in a match. When playing in England he was presented with the 'best polo pony of the season' cup by the Queen.

When he captained Rhodesia at the 1964 South African Games, he got the name 'Hawkeye' Kearns as he showed such a fantastic eye for the ball.

But his prowess as a player was but a small part of Basil Kearn's's make-up. He was a generous sportsman in the true sense. In spite of the great distances he had to travel, he was for many years the driving force behind the Salisbury Sports Club polo section. He could be seen there at every meeting — encouraging new and young players, lending horses and giving instruction where needed. He gave unobtrusive financial assistance when such help would promote the game and at every away tournament he transported horses for the club.

He assisted his club with a tractor, rollers, fertiliser and labour and was always to be seen wearing his club colours at all tournaments. His own turnout and that of his horses, was always impeccable. A life member of Salisbury Sports Club, he was captain of their polo team for several years and was also chief national umpire for the three years preceding his death.

An ambassador of the highest order for his country, he played polo with a zest that was a pleasure to watch.

His string of ponies was always well schooled and meticulously turned out, as one would expect of a first class horseman and horse master. And when there was work to be done in the sport he was always the first to offer.

Basil Kearns was one of the many outstanding polo personalities produced by Rhodesia — a nation with a heritage in the sport dating back to 1895 in Bulawayo and 1896 in Salisbury.

The Rhodesia Polo Association was formed in 1947 with Mr. W. D'Arcy Cathcart as the first president.

Notable players before the fifties included Mr. Cathcart, Jack Browning, Dr. Hurworth, Dr. Byron-Moore, H. H. Henwood, Colonel Haslam, Major Jimmy Nicolls, Stuart Browning, F. J. C. Truter, Colin Hensman, Joe McArthur, 'Goff Morris, Neil McLeod, Ralph Townsend, Hugh Wheeler, Willie White, the Parham brothers, 'White' and 'Black' and John Kemple of Chakari, who had a ground on his farm. Sir Godfrey Huggins was also a keen player.

The outstanding players from the 1950s onward have been Rodney Morris (who captained Rhodesia from 1949-60), Junior Steyl, Bob Draper, and, in the last two decades, Rory and Gary Hensman, Pat Aitcheson, Patrick and Michael Kemple, David Meikle and George Ziemann.

Tom Kearns, Basil's father, played polo for several years and represented Rhodesia on one occasion.

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Monday, 6 February 2012

Joseph Titus Partridge

Pg8, Joe 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

Year: 1951-66
Balls: 14 006
Maidens: 598
Runs: 5 340
Wickets: 281
Average: 19.00

Year: 1951-66
Matches: 56
Innings: 72
Not Out: 26
Runs: 419
Highest: 29
Average: 9,11

Notable Statistics

More than 30 wickets in o season on five occasions - a record These were:

Year: 1952
Overs: 208.6
Maidens: 42
Runs: 629
Wickets: 33
Avg: 19,06
5WI: 3
10WM: Nil

Year: 1954
Overs: 241,4
Maidens: 52
Runs: 740
Wickets: 34
Avg: 21,76
5WI: 1
10WM: 1

Year: 1959
Overs: 299,4
Maidens: 86
Runs: 637
Wickets: 32
Avg: 19,91
5WI: 3
10WM: Nil

Year: 1961
Overs: 201.4
Maidens: 46
Runs: 537
Wickets: 38
Avg: 14,13
5WI: 3
10WM: 1

Year: 1962
Overs: 334,1
Maidens: 138
Runs: 659
Wickets: 46
Avg: 14,33
5WI: 3
10WM: Nil

Lowest average for Rhodesia in 1962 and 1966.

Best Innings Bowling Analysis

Opponents: Natal
Venue: Salisbury
Year: 1961
Overs: 19
Maidens: 2
Runs: 69
Wickets: 8

Opponents: Border
Venue: East London
Year: 1954
Overs: 34
Maidens: 6
Runs: 124
Wickets: 8

Opponents: Border
Venue: Bulawayo
Year: 1959
Overs: 12,1
Maidens: 8
Runs: 9
Wickets: 7

Opponents: North Eastern Transvaal
Venue: Pretoria
Year: 1955
Overs: 11,4
Maidens: 5
Runs: 13
Wickets: 6

Opponents: Eastern Province
Venue: Port Elizabeth
Year: 1966
Overs: 12
Maidens: 7
Runs: 20
Wickets: 6

Best Match Bowling Analysis

Vs: Natal
Venue: Salisbury
Year: 1961
Overs: 32,4
Maidens: 6
Runs: 101
Wickets: 14

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).

Test Career

Matches: 11.
Innings: 12
Not Out:: 5
Runs: 73
Highest Score: 13
Average: 10,42

Runs: 1373
Wkts: 44
Av: 31,20
5 WI: 3


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Friday, 3 February 2012

Gabrielle Eckersley

Pg 7, Gabrielle Tomlinson

In 1974 a small, grey-haired grandmother became the first woman in Rhodesia to be awarded the Quail s Trophy for the individual making the most outstanding contribution to golf. The award came from the all-male Rhodesia Golf Union and was a fitting honour for the well-loved Gaby Tomlinson and a deserved tribute to her outstanding golfing career.

Although, by her own admission, never a world-beater, she was in Southern African terms, a golfer extraordinaire over three decades.

Gabrielle Eckersley was born at Johannesburg on 16 March 1910. but was educated in Rhodesia at the Girls High School at Salisbury, in which town she lived from the age of six. She was married on her twenty-fourth birthday to one of Rhodesia's best known sportsmen, Raymond Tomlinson, who was a national representative in hockey and cricket.

Gaby's golfing career was launched in 1944 when she was holidaying at Isipingo in Natal, and her husband was with the Gold Coast Regiment in West Africa. He wrote saying he was playing golf, so Gaby decided to have a bash too'. An Indian professional — Singh — gave her her first lesson at 2s. 6d. for half an hour, and it was soon apparent that she was a natural, starting with a 24 handicap instead of the customary 36 for women.

It was not long before she was down to single figures and within four years of picking up her first club. Gaby

Tomlinson was champion of her country — Rhodesia. Titles and honours rolled her way in a ceaseless stream and she reigned supreme for more than two decades.

When, at the age of sixty-eight in 1978, the 'First Lady of golf left Rhodesia with her husband Ray to live in South Africa, she had acquired an impressive honours list She had won the Rhodesian title an astonishing 13 times, plus every provincial title — the Mashonaland (15 times); Matabeleland (7); Manicaland (13) and Midlands (2). She was club champion at Royal Salisbury 18 times in 20 years and champion at Chapman Club 22 times in 24 years.

Twice Gaby reached the final of the South African match play championships, and each time she went down to her good friend and rival Rita Easton — first in 1950, when Rita (then Levitan) beat her 4 and 3, then five years later when she lost 5 and 4.

At her peak in 1957, Gaby was a plus one handicap — a rare accomplishment for a woman in Rhodesia — and her greatest individual achievement as a golfer occurred in May 1962, when she scorched round Royal Salisbury's second nine holes in 31 strokes with 6 birdies and 3 pars.

That was her emphatic answer to the critics who, at this stage, were beginning to suggest that Gaby was getting past it. Her magnificent feat gave her the Royal championship for the 11th time in 13 years, her rounds of 71 and 79 putting her 13 strokes ahead of her nearest rival. She remembers that 31 as "the best golf I ever played. I was hitting them straight down the middle and I only had to make one recovery shot and that was on the last hole."

She had been out of touch for several months, but responded to the challenge with a feat that must rank as one of the best nine holes played by a woman on a championship course during a tournament.

Before taking to golf at the age of thirty, Gaby had played hockey for Rhodesia at two South African inter-provincial tournaments (1930 and 1933), and had been Rhodesian doubles tennis-champion in 1936 with Miss M. Morphew.

But it is as a golfer that her name will be remembered. She first won the Rhodesian title in 1948, the year after she had joined Royal Salisbury, where professional Dick Morley moulded her game. Her fourteenth and final national title was to come exactly twenty years later when she shot 79-76-82-237 at Gwelo at the age of fifty-eight to beat S. Andrews by three strokes.

In 1974, at the age of sixty-four, the quiet lady with the infectious smile had her name engraved on the Mashonaland championship trophy for the fifteenth time when she tied with the then national champion, Nancy Walker of Umtali, at Royal Salisbury with rounds of 81 and 85.

Gaby Tomlinson proved almost invincible at her home club. Royal during her peak years, and in 1961 beat South African champion Jean Tindall two up at the club course. This was the first women's golf team to visit Rhodesia, though the visitors only met Mashonaland.

Her biggest disappointment was that she could never become a Springbok as the Rhodesia Ladies Golf Union players were not eligible. Another major setback came in 1968, when Gaby was chosen as captain of the national team to go play in Australia — a tour that was prevented by political intrusion during Rhodesia's isolated years following the Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

Thus it is incredible that Gaby never earned official Rhodesian colours for golf, though she did play against a team of British golfers who visited this country in 1951, and played two matches against a Rhodesian team at Umtali and at Salisbury. It seems no colours were awarded for these matches.

One of her earliest rivals was Mrs. Else Jephcott who took the national title from Gaby Tomlinson in 1950 (after winning it four years previously), and went on to beat Miss Levitan one up in the final. Another bad year for Gaby was 1954 when she lost her Rhodesian crown to Nancy Rohm of Johannesburg by a shattering 7 and 6.

But her setbacks were few over the years and a showcase full of cups, medals and trophies from almost a hundred national, provincial and club triumphs reflects a magnificent golfing career.

Had Gaby of the twinkling eyes lived in another country, she might well have become an international figure, but this did not frustrate her. "I like playing golf just for the fun," she would always say. However, her pleasant personality and attitude belied a fierce competitive spirit and tremendous powers of concentration which were perhaps the key to her success.

When she was awarded the Quail's Trophy in 1974 — it had until then been an all-male preserve - she not only had carved out a nine fine playing career, but had been vice-president of the Rhodesia Ladies' Golf Union for more than a dozen years, had served on the executive of the Mashonaland Ladies Golf Association and had captained Royal Salisbury's ladies' golf section.

Else Jephcott (the first plus one lady golfer in the country and later a plus two), Fiona Parham and Margaret Davy were other memorable personalities from the past in Rhodesian women's golf.

Mrs Davy, who died in 1969 at the age of ninety, played her last game of golf when aged eighty two - "drat it, a wretched car accident prevented my playing any more." Standing only 4ft. 10in. but giant spirited, she had to have clubs specially made for her. She had her last lesson at the age of eighty-two when she sought to add twenty yards to her accurate drives.

"The pro complimented me on my shots but said 1 wouldn't hit them any further because 1 was too near the ground." Such was the vivid personality of the lady widely known as 'Little Humph' who presented a cup to Royal Salisbury in 1939 which is still played for today.

But for sheer achievement in the history of Rhodesian women's golf, none can top Gaby Tomlinson, whose son, Des, played hockey for Rhodesia and went to the Olympic Games at Tokyo in 1964.


Rhodesian titles - 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1958. 1959, 1960, 1962, 1966, 1967, 1968.

Royal Salisbury titles - 1950.1951,1952,1953,1954.1955,1956,1958, 1959, 1961,1962,1963,1964,1965, 1966,1967,1968.1969, (beaten in '57 by E. Jephcott and '60 by N. Elcombe).

Chapman titles— 1947,1948,1949,1950,1951,1952.1954,1955,1956, 1957, 1958,1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965,1966, 1967, 1968 1969, 1970.


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