John Watkins (South African cricketer)
John Cecil Watkins (10 April 1923 – 3 September 2021) was a South African cricketer who played in 15 Test matches for South Africa between 1949 and 1957. At the time of his death aged 98, Watkins was the oldest living Test cricketer and the last surviving member of the side that toured Australasia in 1952–53.
|Full name||John Cecil Watkins|
|Born||10 April 1923|
Durban, South Africa
|Died||3 September 2021 (aged 98)|
Durban, South Africa
|Test debut (cap 174)||24 December 1949 v Australia|
|Last Test||1 January 1957 v England|
Watkins was a hard-hitting middle-order batsman, medium-pace bowler, and expert slips fieldsman. He played two Tests against Australia in South Africa in 1949–50, but was unable to get leave to go on the tour of England in 1951. His best series with the bat was in Australia in 1952–53, when he made 352 runs at 35.20. In the Fifth Test at Melbourne, after Australia batted first and made 520, Watkins, batting at number three, hit 92 (his highest Test score) and 50 to help South Africa to victory by six wickets, to square the series two-all. His best bowling figures came in the next Test, against New Zealand at Wellington, where he opened the bowling, taking 4 for 22 in the second innings and figures of 50.5–31–51–5 for the match; again South Africa won. In his five Tests against New Zealand (in 1952–53 in New Zealand and in 1953–54 in South Africa) he took 18 wickets at 13.50.
He played for Natal from 1946–47 to 1957–58, with a highest score of 169 against Orange Free State at Durban in 1950–51, and one other century, 144 against Transvaal, also at Durban, in 1955–56. His best bowling figures were 5 for 37 against Rhodesia at Salisbury in 1957–58, in his second-last match.
Watkins was born in Durban, Natal, and grew up there. He suffered from mild deformities of the hips and lower back from birth, which eventually required five operations after he retired from playing cricket. After his schooling at Glenwood High School, he served in the Second World War in Italy, at first as a trainee Spitfire pilot until it was discovered that he was colour-blind, after which he was transferred to air traffic control.
He worked as a secretary-accountant. He was the last surviving member of the side that toured Australasia in 1952–53. Following the death of Lindsay Tuckett on 5 September 2016, Watkins became the oldest living Test cricketer. He died on 3 September 2021 in Durban from COVID-19 at the age of 98.
- John Watkins, former South African Test cricketer, passes away at 98
- John Watkins dies aged 98 ten days after contracting Covid-19
- Alfred, Luke (10 April 2017). "You just can't take things too seriously". Cricinfo. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
- "Australia v South Africa, Melbourne 1952–53". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- "New Zealand v South Africa, Wellington 1952–53". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
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- "Natal v Transvaal 1955–56". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- "Rhodesia v Natal 1957–58". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- Christopher Martin-Jenkins, The Complete Who's Who of Test Cricketers, Rigby, Adelaide, 1983, p. 322.
- Knowles, David (12 April 2014). "Watkins laughs his way into the nineties". news24. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
- ABC Cricket Book, South Africans Tour 1952–53, ABC, Sydney, 1952, p. 14.
- "Oldest Test cricketer Lindsay Tuckett dies aged 97". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
- "Did Everton Weekes once miss the start of a Test in which he was playing?". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 7 July 2020.