About 15 years ago this scribe had the privilege of interviewing Arthur Short who was in East London for a tennis tournament at Selborne Park.
Who is Arthur Short, you might be asking.
Simply put, Short is one of SA’s “forgotten cricketers,” players who were selected to represent SA on Test tours that were cancelled due to the sports boycott against the apartheid regime.
These “forgotten cricketers” were thus unable to make a name for themselves in international cricket.
Short, an attractive Eastern Province top-order batsman with all the strokes, was selected to tour England in 1970, and in 1971-72 he replaced Eddie Barlow, who pulled out of a tour to Australia.
In the interview, Short admitted the cancellations were bitter pills to swallow.
However, other players were also badly affected.
Who remembers fast bowler Gary Watson?
He was in the team for England but never put on the green and gold jersey.
He retired from all cricket four years after the tour after taking exactly 100 wickets in first-class cricket.
What about Peter de Vaal? Or all-rounder Anthony “Dassie” Biggs? Both were selected for Australia.
De Vaal was an attacking left-arm spin bowler for Eastern Transvaal and a useful batsman. He played for various teams till 1992-93 when he was 47 years old.
Eastern Province’s Biggs was an off-spinner and heavy scorer as an opening bat, finishing with eight centuries in first-class cricket. He and Short usually got the EP innings off to good, fast starts.
But Hylton Ackerman, Clive Rice and Vincent van der Bijl, all selected for Australia, managed to gain international stardom through playing county cricket in England, with the latter two also representing SA in the so-called “rebel” tours of the 1980s.
Ackerman, along with a young Tony Greig, who was later to skipper England, was selected for a World team which replaced SA in international matches against Australia in 1971-72.
In the first international he scored a century against a strong Australian attack. Such a pity it wasn’t his debut Test match.
It was Ackerman who told this scribe an amusing story . . . When he and Greig arrived in Adelaide they were met at the airport by a short gentleman in his 60s, dressed in an old cardigan, who kindly helped them load their baggage into his car and dropped them off at their hotel.
“Do you have anything to do with cricket here?” Ackerman asked him.
“Yes I have, the name’s Bradman,” was the reply.
In the end, SA had to wait until late 1991 before they played official international cricket again.
They toured India where three one-day internationals were played, with Rice, 42, named the first captain of SA after SA’s return to the fold.
But Rice was fated to never play Test cricket.
When India toured SA a year later, he was thought past his best and was replaced by Kepler Wessels.