C.B.Llewellyn: A Study in Equivocation

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By Neil Jenkinson

As a cricketer Charles Llewellyn, often known as Buck, had two lives.

Born at Pietermaritzburg, then in the British-run Cape Colony, in 1876, he played in 15 Test matches for South Africa, some retrospectively designated. He moved to England in 1899 and was an allround regular for ten seasons at Hampshire, where his left-handed skills brought him nearly 9,000 first-class runs and over 700 wickets. His intermittent use of wrist-spin – learned from R.O.Schwarz – points to him as a pioneer of methods which have surfaced only occasionally in top-class cricket.

Careful with money, he had a difference of opinion over pay which led to him leaving Hampshire after the 1910 season. He then followed a secondary career as a well-liked professional for Accrington and in leagues in Bradford and Bolton until his early sixties.

He died at Egham in Surrey in 1964, following a gas explosion at his home, just when Basil D’Oliveira’s talents were becoming more widely known to the British public. Buck’s ’second life’ began when various historians realised that he, too, came from a mixed-race family, his mother having been born on the remote volcanic island of St Helena in the South Atlantic, where many occupants had been or were descended from African slaves. During his lifetime, most of his fellow players had simply thought of him as well-tanned and his children were sure he was of ‘white stock’.

Neil Jenkinson relates the complex story of a man now widely recognised as the first non-white player to represent South Africa in Test cricket.

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