A Good Sport

A-Good-Sport

Springbok Chris Duckworth gets a Smile and a Handshake from the Queen

A Good Sport 

The British introduced cricket to India in 1721, where it slowly but steadily gained universal popularity, in contrast to southern Africa, where it remained the preserve of English-speaking South Africans for well over a century.

When South African Prime Minister D.F. Malan, the champion of Afrikaner Nationalism, who vowed to throw off the imperial British yoke and devise a final solution for the ‘native question’, was introduced to the legendary Springbok captain Dudley Nourse, he is remembered in some circles to have said, “I hope you enjoy your visit to our country.”  A later Afrikaans Nationalist Prime Minister, B.J. Vorster, who had spent time in jail as a Nazi sympathizer, arranged to have Test scores delivered to him during parliamentary debates. When told that the English had lost three wickets, he asked, “Hulle Engelse of ons Englese?” (“Their English or ours?”)

Naturally, Rhodesian cricket began in 1890 near Fort Victoria shortly after Rhodes’ Pioneer Column arrived.  It was always closely tied to South Africa.  Here too, it failed to attract the Afrikaans or African populations.

A Good Sport

Christopher Anthony Russell Duckworth, as he likes to introduce himself, was born in Que Que while his father was underground manager of the Globe & Phoenix Mine, 1935-40.   While a school boy in 1948, his mother drove him and his brother from Gwelo to Bulawayo to watch the M.C.C. play Rhodesia. His hero was Denis Compton. When he saw Compton emerge and asked for his signature, he said “Not now sonny, I must inspect the wicket.”

 

“Chris became a very fine free scoring, right-handed stroke-maker and brilliant fielder and wicket-keeper, the second Rhodesian born cricketer, after Denis Tomlinson twenty years earlier, to be selected to play for South Africa’s Springboks.”

During the South African tour to England in 1955, Chris was invited to a cocktail party given by Denis and his South African born wife Valery in the garden of their home south of London. He told Denis how they’d met before.

Denis pursed his lips and frowned. He asked Valery to bring pen and paper.  Then he said “Please sir, may I have your signature?”

Thanks to Chris Duckworth for anecdote and photo on his 79th birthday and Donald Woods the famous South African editor.

 

13 Comments

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply March 24, 2012

    Such generosity Diana… Thank you… And when Denis asked me for my signature, which I presented for him with a smile, he thanked me with a bow… And then weeks later when I played my first game at Lords where Denis was fielding at deep third man, he walked over, shook my hand and said, “The best of luck”… The man was a gentleman supreme, sportsmanship his hallmark…

    • Diana

      Reply Reply March 24, 2012

      Chris that’s a lovely bottom line to the story! You are a great story teller.

      • Chris Duckworth

        Reply Reply March 24, 2012

        Have learned from reading “Once Called Home”…

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply March 24, 2012

    Am going to include this “Once Called Home” in my “Ducks and Drakes”, the over 3,000 pages of history of the Duckworth Family which dates back to 1538… So Diana, thank you again…

    • Diana

      Reply Reply March 24, 2012

      How is the magnum opus coming along?

      • Chris Duckworth

        Reply Reply March 24, 2012

        The magnum is progressing well… Am on a novella Working Title “The Adventurous Royal”…at present, in between – As – and Bs – and Cs of the wonders of life…

        • Diana

          Reply Reply March 24, 2012

          Chris we both have to remember one more layer can ruin a painting and get on with the editing and get the books out there

  • Stewart Rau

    Reply Reply March 27, 2012

    Congratulations Chris, a fantastic piece of history. I did tell you a little while ago that in my first year at Chaplin I travelled to Bulawayo to watch you represent Rhodesia against Surrey in 1959.I still have some quite vivid memories of the game. As a matter on interest my father was an underground shift boss on the Globe and Phoenix in the early fifties.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply March 27, 2012

      Stewart, Glad you have joined the blog and enjoying it. You dont happen to have a picture of the main shaft of the Phoenix with the fig tree nearby do you, or one of the native compound or native clinic and hospital you’d be willing to share? Diana

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply March 27, 2012

    You have a great blog Diana… Congratulations…

  • Tony Knight

    Reply Reply April 22, 2015

    Hi Chris,
    Greetings from eastern Ontario, Canada.
    Is that Tony Pithey next to you in the photo? He was my first captain at Salisbury Sports club in 1961. I was 20 years old and used primarily as a stock bowler tying up one end.
    I later switched to the other SSC first division side captained by David lewis and later by Ian Haig. I played in the Salisbury first division for about 4 years before being transferred to Zambia. I left there went to England and eventually to Canada in 1967.
    Tony Knight

    • Diana

      Reply Reply April 23, 2015

      Tony, I am sad to report that Chris recently passed away…the memories live on.

  • Tony Knight

    Reply Reply April 23, 2015

    Thankyou Diana
    Such a shame as he wasn’t that old.

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