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.