Denis Lindsay

Batsman-wicket-keeper for South Africa


Denis Thomson Lindsay, cricketer: born Benoni, South Africa 4 September 1939; married (four daughters); died Johannesburg 30 November 2005.

A wicket-keeper who could average 37 with the bat and make 59 dismissals in 19 Test matches would be concreted into a 21st-century team. Denis Lindsay of South Africa was the batsman-wicket-keeper who blazed the trail for the likes of Adam Gilchrist and Geraint Jones some 40 years ago, when a keeper's first qualification was his ability with the gauntlets.

Born in 1939, the son and nephew of Test players, Lindsay first appeared for North East Transvaal in 1958. He moved to Transvaal five years later and first won headlines when he appeared in England for the touring Fezela side in 1964. Batting in the opening match against Essex at Chelmsford, he played the first ball politely back to the bowler, Bill Greensmith, and then hit the next five balls each for six to win the match. Observers were quick to spot that this private team contained enormous promise; along with Lindsay were Eddie Barlow, Colin Bland, Peter Pollock and Peter van der Merwe, all under 25.

A right-handed strokemaker Lindsay was a good enough keeper to succeed John Waite as South Africa's first choice and arrived in England as such for the 1965 tour after visiting Australia where he scored 104, at number nine, against South Australia in Adelaide. He was less successful in English conditions, averaging only 22 in the three Tests, although he was batting at number three and then opening the innings, positions to which he was not best suited.

Back home in 1966-67, he had a superb series against Australia, scoring 606 runs at an average of 86, twice scoring centuries from the middle order and ending it as the leading scorer from either side. He also took 24 catches and was one of a very proud South African team to beat Australia for the first time in South Africa. That season he made 1,000 runs in 10 matches, including four centuries, and broke his country's wicket-keeping record with 46 dismissals.

In the second Test of that series, in Cape Town, Lindsay had made five when he aimed a spectacular hook at Dave Renneburg, the ball flying off his forehead up the wicket, where a grateful bowler dived and took the catch. Lindsay was knocked out and had to be carried off.

Michael Melford wrote of his play in that series: "He only played a defensive stroke at the very last resort. The rest was all quick-footed attack - and yet the ball was seldom struck with anything but the middle of the bat."

By 1968 South Africa's apartheid laws brought the country's expulsion from world cricket and Lindsay thus missed tours to Australia and New Zealand. He retired in 1974 with a career aggregate of 7,074 runs, at an average of 35.45 with 333 dismissals.

Lindsay won further praise as an ICC Match Referee from 2000 until 2003, officiating in seven Test matches and 59 one-day internationals.

Derek Hodgson

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