A Duck on the First Googly

My brother David getting back yard cricket coaching

My brother, David,  playing backyard cricket.

A Duck on the First Googly

Basil Prior joined the Globe and Phoenix Mine in 1945 to work underground. At 2 pm everyday, Ethne, his wife, would send the garden boy over to the shaft-head to leave a  change of clothes and her bicycle.  After a shower he would coast down the hill home for tea and a snack.

A Duck on the First Googly

When there was a cricket test match, which went on for days, Ethne would send notes about the state of play, via the garden boy, to the shaft-head during the day to inform the chaps underground.

An American joined the mine. He introduced baseball.  Soon Que Que had the first recognized diamond park in the country.  Basil worried that Que Que’s sons might take to baseball instead of cricket.  He constructed nets for them at the bottom of the garden.  After his tea he would coach.  Although he broke both collar bones and had to quit rugby, he continued to play club cricket himself for many years.

My Dad was always the smallest in his class.  Once he entered Forest High School, in the rough and tumble of Johannesburg’s Southern Suburbs, he had to accept that he wouldn’t be chosen for anyone’s rugby fifteen. He boxed in his division through his university years, which stood him in good stead outside the ring as well.  He was fast, had a keen eye and was an enthusiastic sportsman.  He also joined the G & P Mine Cricket Team when he moved to Que Que in 1946.  They played on the G & P field between Amaveni Road and Que Que School.

Dad knew that besides the priorities of a larger water supply, a water born sewage system, street lighting and paved roads, Que Que, the smallest municipality in the world, would need a sports club if it was ever going to attract big industry.

Once elected to council, a site, off Rhodes Highway on the road to Umvuma, was set aside for a comprehensive sports amenity that included rugby, cricket, tennis and golf, with room to grow, around a central club house.

Development took time.  Finally, as mayor in 1952, he opened the first of many cricket matches to be played at the  new Que Que Sports Club.

With the first ball he bowled the batsman out with a googly!

He was president of the Club for ten years.

Dr Hirsch Opening Cricket Season 1954

Dr Hirsch opening the Cricket Season 1952 at the opening of Que Que Sports Club

Thanks to Nigel Prior for Snippets from his Mother’s Memoirs.

P.S.  Here is an update from Ken Connelly:    “In 2002 the club turned 50 and we staged a black tie dinner in the hall, our guest speaker was none other than ex Springbok rugby coach Ian Macintosh (son of the Que Que Town Clerk from the 1950’s). Your Dad would have certainly known him. This year we turn 60 and we are planning another dinner after a cricket festival in May. The Irish ambassador to Zimbabwe is involved in the Black Rhino conservancy just south of Kwekwe and the event will also raise funds for this worthwhile cause.
We hold a “Wicked Cricket” festival annually, 16 teams, lots of colour and a real family day with old fashioned church type fete stalls all around the ground.
Kwekwe soldiers on!
Baseball.    The American Eagles vs Rhodesia in 1958. This was on what is colloquially termed “the old baseball field”. This field has now been leased by Goldridge College. “



  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply April 9, 2012

    Sounds and looks as though your Dad looks could have been a replica Percy Mansell…

    • Diana

      Reply Reply April 9, 2012

      Chirs, He always gave it his all, in work as well as in play.

      • Diana

        Reply Reply April 13, 2012

        Here’s a Comment from Abe Menashe:
        “I was most interested to read the goings on of Sport in the days of Dr. M.I. Hirsch. Having graduated in December, 1947 from UCT, I left QQ to take up a temporary appointment with the ESC in Salisbury until mid 1948 when I filled one of the 2 vacancies of Junior Electrical Engineers at the City of Bulawayo, who were in the process of expanding their Power Station from 30 Megawatts (2 x 15MW) to 90 MW
        (2 x 30MW.) In Bulawayo for sport I used to support Parkview Tennis, was a Jewish Club with very strong players such as an emerging Basil Katz, to become Rhodesia’s No.1, and Sammy Sher. Later, my wife, Pauline was to be part of the Matabeleland League Champions in both Mixed Doubles with Naomie Barnett and Kay Lowenthal. The best I could do was to win a some Parkview doubles with Eugen Zlattner, whom we nicknamed him, “Drobny.” My wife was later Rhodesian Squash Champion, followed by our daughter, Louise; an achievement she did whist still at Townsend School.

        I switched to “baseball from cricket” and joined Queens Club. I landed up running the Matabeleland baseball and softball Association, taking over from from No3 in the Town Clerk’s Department, a very brilliant administrator, called Bernard Broadbent. II was also the Bulawayo Chronicle Journalist for Baseball and Softball. Also played for Queens. I cannot remember the year, it must be some time in +/-
        1953, we (Queens) travelled as Matabeleland champions to QQ. to compete against QQ Falcons. Their
        Pitcherwas Stuart Bradley and Catcher Colin Simpson (an ex Plumtree Scholar,) also a Campbell, whose father was a great sportsman. believe the Falcons Manager was Pop Wilson (of Wilson’s Garage fame,)
        and coach was Pop Bradley. The Old Harians, (my old School Prince Edward,) were the Mashonaland Champions. I recall Jimmy Gilmour Captain and Catcher, Pat Dunn Pitcher, Squib Fraser short stop, also Henry Dunn. My memory fails me as to the Rest. Queens was Ralph Barnet Pitcher, Ronnie Pinchen;
        Catcher; Des Thwaites 1st base; Cecil Petzer 2nd base; Alf Hutchins short stop; In the outfield were Willie Viljoen, Bertie Venter and myself. I cannot recall our 3rd base. The important thing is that Facons beat the lot of us. My father who was still running his Departmental store but not all 4 shops, came to watch because he knew baseball from his years in USA 1913-1918. He had a big smile when he saw his Son struck out by Stuart Bradley. Falcons won the Competition. A great achievement. Que Que Baseball were the champions in the Country. Bradley, later married Pop Wilson’s daughter, a beautiful Blondie.

        My activities in Baseball did me a “great favour”, because at that time In was interested in applying for a Rhodes Scholarship to do Pos5t Graduate work at Oxford. I was interviewed by a Committee of Old “Oxfordians.” When I told them that my interests were in baseball, I knew I was “a dead duck.” From those early days of 1949, I took “a 12-month Sabbatical” from Work in early 1951, travelling all over Italy, Austria, Southern Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium France, Spain, Ireland and England, mostly Hitch-hiking and living in youth Hostels and eating at University Campuses and Military Camps. I successfully undertook an advanced Field Officer’s course at the School of Military Engineering in Gillingham, Kent. (There goes many, many tales of all my experiences of o09ne of the most interesting times of my life. Suffice it to say I changed my thinking from an Academic to Business. I have never been sorry, because the academic side, always was there in many ways until the Present.)

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply April 14, 2012

    Wonderful memories… Wonderful…

  • keith kietzmann

    Reply Reply September 24, 2016

    To be honest I think I grew up at the Sports Club.

    I remember the opening and the fete to raise funds as well. Most clearly remember the American baseball team visiting and watching them hitting homers while they practiced. In later years I scored for the baseball. As you may recall, my Dad was manager/licencee for many years, and end up like your Dad as a life member.

    • Diana Polisensky

      Reply Reply September 29, 2016

      Yes the Sports Club was the life blood of the town. Everyone congregated there.

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