Cricket mourns the death of Chris Burger

2014-06-07 00:00

FORMER Natal and Springbok cricketer Chris Burger (78) died at his home in Howick on Wednesday. He was found by one of his friends who he walked with every morning after he failed to arrive for his daily appointment.

Burger was a keen sportsman, particularly when it came to rugby and cricket. He went to Michaelhouse where he played Natal Schools rugby as a fullback and was in the SA Schools cricket side for two years, in 1953 and 1954.

But it was cricket he favoured more and he was picked for Natal in his early 20s as an attacking middle-order batsman. His highest score for Natal was 131, against Eastern Province at St George’s in the 1962/63 season.

He reached the pinnacle of his career when he was selected for the 1958 South African side, captained by Clive van Ryneveld, playing his only two Tests, at the Wanderers and St George’s Park, against Ian Craig’s Australians.

South Africa suffered heavy defeats, by 10 and eight wickets and Burger, batting at seven or eight, registered his highest score of 37* in the second innings at PE, the highest score of the SA innings.

That was his lot in international cricket, but he continued playing for Natal and was a great club cricketer, where he led Zingari for many years and played Natal Country Districts.

He also turned out for Natal B and was an honorary member of Kingsmead Mynahs, attending many dinners, lunches and functions.

“Chris was a great supporter of ours and supported our initiatives when it came to schools cricket,” said Colin Chater, current president of Kingsmead Mynahs.

“Whenever we had past provincial players taking on schools such as Hilton, Michaelhouse and Kearsney he was always there. He loved the game and lived in the same retirement village as Neil Adcock who died last year.”

Burger was fondly remembered by Dick Lambert, a member of Mynahs who played under him for Natal B and Country Districts.

“He was a gentleman to the core who loved the company of fellow cricketers. Despite his success for Natal and being a Springbok, he never let it go to his head,” said Lambert.

Despite his attacking style with bat in hand, Lambert recalls Burger as being an edgy starter at the crease.

“He was always nervous when he came to the crease — competent but nervous. Once he settled, had hit a few out the middle and got going, he was great to watch,” he said.

“He had big hands and could field anywhere but he never fancied himself as a bowler. As a captain, he was the best I played under.”

Burger was a player who loved and admired the game.

“He treated every match, whether club, provincial or international, the same. He abided by the rules, standards and principles of the game and is a sad loss to the South African cricket fraternity,” said Lambert.

Chris Burger:

Tests 2, Runs 62, HS 37*, Avg 20.66

First Class Matches 48, Runs 2073, HS 131, Avg 30.44, 100x2, 50x15.

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