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Norman Gordon died on September 2, 2014 at the age of 103 years and 27 days. He was the oldest living Test cricketer, the first one to have reached three figures. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks back at Gordon’s cricketing career.
Norman Gordon, the oldest Test cricketer, passed away at the age of 103 on September 2, 2014. Gordon had turned 103 on August 6 this year, and was battling serious health issues in recent times. He remains the only Test cricketer to have lived for more than 100 years, as he reached three figures in 2011. New Zealand’s Eric Tindill, was the oldest living Test cricketer until 2010, when he passed away a few months short of his 100th birthday.
Gordon was born on August 6, 1911 in Boksburg and made his First-Class debut for Transvaal in 1933 as a fast-bowler. However, he had to wait for four more years to get his next cap in the Currie Cup. He had a successful season in 1937-38, during which he took 39 wickets in seven matches at an average of 16.17. Later that year (1938-39), he was chosen for South Africa to face the visiting Englishmen. Gordon made his Test debut at the Old Wanderers in Johannesburg and took five wickets in his first innings. His first wicket in Test cricket was the great Wally Hammond.
Gordon went on to take five wickets in the second Test at Cape Town as well. However, during both his fifers, he had conceded more than 100 runs as England kept piling the runs. He featured in all the five Tests that summer and played in the timeless Test at Durban. That was his last Test as the second World War broke out in 1939. Gordon played First-Class cricket until 1947 and then played one game in 1948 for Transvaal against the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). In five Tests, he had taken 20 wickets at 40.35. In First-Class cricket, he took 126 wickets in 29 matches at an average of 22.24.
In 2011, Gordon celebrated his 100th birthday in the presence of some of the biggest names in South African cricket. However, he will remain the third oldest First-Class cricketer after Jim Hutchinson and Syd Ward. Both of them also lived for 103 years, but they were marginally older that Gordon at the time of their respective deaths. With Gordon’s demise, his compatriot Lindsay Tuckett is the oldest living Test cricketer He is currently 95 years old.
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