SA cricket legend John Waite dies

One of South Africa’s greatest wicketkeepers, John Henry Bickford Waite, died in Johannesburg on June 22.

He was born on January 19 1930 and was 81 years old at the time of his death.

He was the first South African to reach the milestone of 50 Test matches, and although tall for a wicketkeeper, he kept immaculately throughout his lengthy career to South Africa’s fast and spin bowlers, especially South African match-winner, off-spinner Hugh Tayfield, off whom he effected many stumpings.

He was also a dependable batsman, opening in the early part of his career. But once Trevor Goddard joined Jack McGlew in 1955, he dropped down the order. He scored four Test centuries during his career—one against England at Old Trafford, two against Australia and one against New Zealand.

A student at Rhodes University, Waite sprang to immediate prominence on the occasion of his first-class debut against George Mann’s MCC touring team in 1948/49, scoring 80 in an Eastern Province innings of 397.

His promise was evident and he represented a South Africa XI against Lindsay Hassett’s touring Australian team the following season when he scored 11 and 23.

Against Griqualand West in his fourth match, he stroked his way to 108, his maiden first-class century and in his next match his good form continued with scores of 84 and 125 not out against Border.

On his Test debut at Trent Bridge in 1951, a match won by South Africa, Waite stroked his way to an elegant 76, adding 82 with Dudley Nourse (208) for the third wicket in just on three hours.

In 1953/54 Waite set a new world record of 23 Test dismissals in a series against New Zealand, but broke that record in 1961/62 with 26 victims against the same team—a record he holds with Mark Boucher.

During his Test career he scored 2 405 runs with a highest score of 134, including four centuries and 16 fifties, and his run total by a wicketkeeper and 141 dismissals (124 catches, 17 stumpings) in Tests was the South African record for many decades.—Sapa

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