Former South Africa cricket captain Clive Rice dies at 66
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Clive Rice, South Africa’s first post-apartheid international cricket captain and a formidable player who never got the opportunity to show his talent in tests, died on Tuesday aged 66.
Rice was diagnosed with a brain tumor after collapsing in February. He traveled to India for what he hoped would be life-saving surgery after doctors in South Africa said he was going to die.
“Well, that’s what we’re all going to do, but I’m not in a hurry,” Rice said in an interview in March after the surgery.
He died in a Cape Town hospital on Tuesday, five days after his birthday.
“Clive was our first captain and we knew him to be a great fighter all his life,” Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.
Although he led South Africa’s cricket team out of isolation in 1991, Rice’s career coincided almost exactly with, and was spoiled by, the sporting ban because of apartheid.
He was 22 and a young star when picked for the test tour to Australia in the 1971-72 season, only for that series to be canceled because of apartheid.
So, he had to wait 20 years to finally make his international debut, captaining South Africa at the age of 42 when the country returned from isolation in 1991 with a three-game one-day international series in India.
But, rated as too old, he was dropped for South Africa’s first test after apartheid later that year in the West Indies, and also from the 1992 World Cup squad — a hugely contentious decision in South Africa. He never played for his country again.
Although his international career stands at just three ODI games, he was one of the world’s best allrounders in the 1970s and 1980s, captaining Nottinghamshire to two English county titles.
A hard-hitting batsman and threatening seam bowler, Rice played first-class cricket for 25 years, retiring only in his mid-40s. While he never got the chance to record any test averages, his first-class numbers were impressive: 48 centuries, 137 half-centuries, average of 40.95 with the bat, and 930 first-class wickets, 23 five-wicket hauls, and one 10-wicket haul.
Averaging nearly 41 as a batsman and below 23 as a bowler put him up there with the game’s best allrounders.
During South Africa’s years of isolation, he was also the country’s undoubted cricket leader, captaining in unofficial “rebel” series and also leading his home province, Transvaal, to domestic dominance.
Under Rice, who was unmistakable with his drooping moustache, Transvaal’s team became known as the “Mean Machine,” a reflection of his hard-headed approach to the game.
And while his success came during the apartheid years, his quality was still recognized in the new South Africa.
“Clive’s career came at a challenging time in our country’s and the sport of cricket’s history,” Thabang Moroe, the president of Rice’s former domestic team said. “One cannot help but tip your hat to some phenomenal performances.”
Cricket South Africa said the flag at its headquarters in Johannesburg was at half-staff in tribute to Rice, and South Africa players would wear black armbands in the second test in Bangladesh, which starts on Thursday.
Nottinghamshire also paid tribute to Rice, who returned to the team after he retired as a player to fill the role of cricket manager from 1999-2003.
Rice was “one of the shining lights” of the team in the ’70s and ’80s and was a “brilliant allrounder and inspirational captain,” Nottinghamshire said in a statement.