The South African cricket class of 1970 was one that was ready to dominate world cricket but never got the opportunity to do so.
South African Cricket Class of 1970
They had easily seen off the touring Australian team, courtesy of a four nil whitewash in South Africa. There were a number of truely world class players in this team. As the team was selected purely from the white population in the midst of the apartheid years they were unable to secure any Test cricket post the 1970 Australian tour. International isolation was finally confirmed with the implementation of the Gleneagles Agreement.
This look at the South African cricket class of 1970 does not delve into the politics of the time. We celebrate the fantastic indivuduals who were the core of the team, with an acknowledgement that there were players who were never given the opportunity to play for their country due to apartheid.
The makeup of the team
This team was different to most that had preceded them. There were specialist batsmen as well as bowlers. It was the number of quality all rounders that really set this team apart. In a modern context, any team with three all rounders would be really difficult to beat. There are current Test teams who do not have one player of that quality, let alone three.
Barry Richards: Richards only played in the four Tests of the 1970 tour. His batting average in that short career was 72.57, with two hundreds and two 50’s. In his first-class career, he scored over 28 000 runs at an average of 54.74. He currently resides in Australia.
Eddie Barlow: A batting average of 45.74 in 30 Tests is very respectable for a player of the 1960’s and 70’s. Add to that 40 Test Wickets and you have a very handy all rounder. Barlow passed away in 2005.
Ali Bacher: Bacher was the captain of the side. He played in 12 Tests and ended with a batting average of 32.33. He enjoyed a successful career in cricket administration and still lives in Johannesburg.
Graeme Pollock: Arguably, Pollock is one of the finest left-handed batsmen to grace the game. A 23 Test career produced an average of 60.97 and a highest score of 274, a South African record for nearly thirty years. He made his first class debut at the tender of age of 16 for Eastern Province, scoring a hundred in his debut season.
Lee Irvine: Irvine was a wicketkeeper/batsman. He also played the four Tests against the Australia. His batting average was 50.42. A more realistic indication of his quality was his first class average of 40.48.
Dennis Lindsay: Another wicketkeeper/batsman used during the 1970 series, Lindsay had a Test batting average of 37.66 during his 19 Tests.
Mike Proctor: Michael John Proctor, or Procky to his team mates has always been held in high esteem in both South Africa and England where he played for Gloucestershire (or Proctorshire according to some wags). His career is definitely worth spending a little extra time to appreciate. At a Test level, he averaged 25.11 after the 7 Tests he played. At a first class level, he scored over 21 000 runs at an average of 36.01, with a highest score of 254. As a right arm quick. He took 48 wickets in his short Test career, at an incredible average of 15.02. He took 1417 wickets in 401 first class cricket, at an average of 19.53. Procky is possible the most underestimated allrounder of all time.
Peter Pollock: “Pooch” Pollock, father of former Proteas captain Shaun Pollock, could also lay claim to being a bowling allrounder. He played in 28 Tests, taking 116 wickets at 24.18. He scored 607 runs at an average of 21.67. The Pollock legacy will always be remembered with great fondness in South Africa.
Trevor Goddard: Goddard was one the more experienced players of the South African cricket class of 1970. He played in 41 Tests as an allrounder. He scored 2516 Test runs at an average of 34.46, including 6 centuries. As a left arm medium pace bowler, he took 123 wickets at 26.22.
All statistics courtesy of http://www.espncricinfo.com/
This South African cricket team contained a number of high quality players, some who can lay claim to be true legends of the game. Due to political circumstances outside of their control, most were never able to show the world their true worth. With deference to those who were never afforded the opportunity to even play first class cricket, the South African cricket class of 1970 will always be the forgotten generation.