Eric Rowan: The Toughest Springbok

SALE – UK price £3.50, overseas price inc postage £7

By Rick Smith

One of South Africa’s finest batsmen in the first half of the 20th century, Eric Rowan will always be remembered for his cocky and fiercely combative approach to every match in which he played. A highly courageous player, he was prepared to take on Lindwall and Miller at their fastest without the benefit of either gloves or box. To him the very thought of a helmet and other modern protective gear would have been anathema.

No stranger to conflict, he sat down on the pitch when a Lancashire crowd barracked him for slow scoring, was controversially omitted from South Africa’s 1947 tour of England and had his Test career ended by the South African Cricket Association for non-cricketing reasons.

Using a variety of sources and photographs from the Brian Bassano Collection, Rick Smith describes the career of this South African whose approach to cricket would have been very much at home in the modern era.

In a Test career lasting from 1935 to 1951, Eric Rowan scored 1,965 runs at an average of 43.66. In 1951, aged 42, he made 236 against England at Leeds, which was then South Africa’s highest individual score in a Test match. He is still the oldest cricketer to score a Test double-century. Durable to the end, Eric’s career ended in the 1953/54 season when he was not far short of his 45th birthday.

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