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Clive Rice © Gallo Images

Clive Rice - a colossus, an inspiration

Clive Rice, the first post-apartheid captain of South Africa and a famed allrounder, finally succumbed to an opponent he could not beat when he died Tuesday, July 28 2015, five days after his 66th birthday.

Twitter tributes

Rice, who had been suffering from a brain tumour and lung cancer, acknowledged in a recent interview that he was "in the departure lounge" but was determined to fight until the end.

He underwent robotic radiation treatment for the brain tumour in Indian city Bangalore and said in March that he believed the doctors there had saved him from death after he had been told he couldn't be treated in South Africa.

But he was admitted to a South African hospital two days ago, suffering from severe stomach pains, and a Cricket South Africa spokesman confirmed that Rice died early Tuesday.

Throughout a 24-year first-class career, Rice was renowned as a tough competitor.

He was selected for the Transvaal provincial team at the age of 20 and his potential as a fast bowling allrounder was recognised two years later when he was selected for South Africa's scheduled 1971-72 tour of Australia.

The tour did not take place because of opposition to the South African government's apartheid policy and it was another 20 years before the country returned to official international cricket – with Rice, then 42, captaining a team which played three one-day internationals (ODIs) in India.

Clive Rice
- Memories

But he was controversially not included in South Africa's team for the 1992 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, with the selectors believing younger, more athletic players were needed for the big fields of Australia.

Ironically, it was because of Rice's athleticism and potential on those same big fields that he had been picked as a promising youngster for the cancelled 1971-72 tour.

Denied official international cricket, Rice's exploits were limited to South African domestic cricket, the English county championship and Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket –- and 18 unofficial tests for South Africa against 'rebel' touring teams between 1982 and 1987.


Rice's career coincided with an era of notable allrounders, including Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee and fellow-South African Mike Procter.

Former South African captain Ali Bacher said: "I have no doubt that given the opportunity to play regular test cricket, Clive Rice would have been right up there with the best allrounders in test history."

He was captain of the Transvaal 'mean machine' which dominated South Africa's domestic competitions during the 1980s.

It was a team packed with players of international standard, including South Africa's Cricketer of the Century Graeme Pollock, and other stars such as Jimmy Cook, Vintcent van der Bijl and West Indians Alvin Kallicharran and Sylvester Clarke.

Rice was uncompromising, insisting on his team maintaining their highest standards against all opponents.

"Don't ever let them think they might be able to beat you because if they do it once, they'll think they can do it again," he once said.

He was appointed captain of English county Nottinghamshire in 1978 but was sacked after joining World Series Cricket. Rice went to court to force the county to retain him on the staff and a season and a half later he regained the captaincy.

Forming a match-winning partnership with New Zealander Hadlee, he led Nottinghamshire to victory in the county championship in 1981 – their first title in 52 years.

In naming Rice as one of their 1981 Cricketers of the Year, the Wisden Almanack likened the combination of Rice and Hadlee to the great Nottinghamshire pair of Harold Larwood and Bill Voce.

In 482 first-class matches he scored 26 331 runs at an average of 40.95 and took 930 wickets at an average of 22.49.


Domestic career in South Africa and England

Born to Patrick and Angela, Rice began his career with Transvaal in 1969 and was called up for South Africa's (ultimately cancelled) tour of Australia in 1971–72. 

A record containing just three one-day internationals suggests a moderate cricketer, but Rice was far from that. Through the 1970s and 80s, for Transvaal and Nottinghamshire, he was one of the game's leading allrounders - a punishing right-handed batsman with one of the most savage cuts in cricket, a seamer capable of genuine pace through the 1970s and a captain as hard-headed as any in the business.

Rice was the driving force behind the Transvaal "Mean Machine" in the 1970s and 80s,  and as Notts's captain, he led the side to the County Championship title in both 1981 and 1987, winning the prestigious award of being named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year for his exploits in 1981.

Sadly, he was discarded by both South Africa and Transvaal at the end of his career, eventually moving to Natal where, with Malcolm Marshall, he helped shape the formidable talents of Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Jonty Rhodes. He subsequently returned to Trent Bridge as cricket manager. It was during this period that he encouraged Kevin Pietersen to leave South Africa to qualify for England.

He later played for Scotland.

International cricket

He attracted the attention of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket - in itself recognition of his abilities - and was an automatic choice for the South African teams against the rebel tourists of the 1980s. He was also the epitome of the modern professional cricketer, quick to recognise the financial opportunities that began to arise in the game.

During the 1980s, a number of rebel cricket teams visited South Africa to play unofficial "test" matches. Rice captained the home side for the majority of these fixtures.

Rice was able to make his debut in official international cricket in 1991, when, aged 42, he played in—and captained—South Africa's first One Day International, in a match against India at Eden Gardens, Calcutta. Rice finished with averages of 13 with the bat and 57 with the ball from his three one-day international matches.

Personal life

At the time of his death, he was chairman for a street-lighting company called Envirolight in Johannesburg, and his wife Susan is heading a Sports Tour and Bush safari company. The couple have two children.

Rice's grandfather Phillip Syndercombe Bower played cricket for Oxford University while his brother Richard was selected for Transvaal but was unable to play due to exams.


In March 2015, Rice had a lifesaving procedure on a cancerous brain tumor in India after doctors at home told him there was nothing they could do and he was going to die.

Rice was diagnosed with the brain tumor after collapsing in February, he said in an interview released on Tuesday by South Africa’s Eyewitness News. However, neurosurgeons in South Africa told him the position of the tumor ruled out surgery. Rice therefore opted to travel to India for robotic radiation treatment, a procedure where a machine sends radiation into the brain using lasers to destroy the tumor without needing to cut into the brain.

“From being in a state where they told you, you’re basically going to die, well, that’s what we’re all going to do. But I’m not in a hurry to die,” Rice said after the procedure. “Through this treatment we managed to sort it out.”

“Every day now you wake up, you just feel better and better and better, and I was very happy with what happened,” he said in the interview. “It’s almost like being taken out in a cricket match when you are the last batsman and lose with one run, only to discover that it was a bad ball bowled and you have another chance to win,”

Opinions about match fixing

In September 2010, Rice claimed in an interview to Fox News that betting syndicates were involved in the deaths of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer and former South African captain Hansie Cronje. Fox Sports quoted Rice as saying: "These mafia betting syndicates do not stop at anything and they do not care who gets in their way." Former Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson had earlier told Fox Sports that match-fixing "might not be about money, it might be about extortion, and all the things that go on".


Batting and fielding averages

Mat Inns NO Runs HS Avg BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St
ODIs 3
2 0
26 14
13.00 37 70.27 0
0 1 1 0 0
First-class 482 766 123 26331 246 40.95 - - 48 137 - 401 0
List A 479 444 83 13474
169 37.32 - - 11 79 - - 174 0
Bowling averages

Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Avg Econ SR 4w 5w 10

ODIs 3 3 138 114 2 1-46 1-46 57.00 4.95 69.0 0 0 0
First-class 482 - 48628 20922 930 7-62 - 22.49 2.58 52.2 0 23 1
List A 479 - 17738 11705 517 6-18 6-18 22.64 3.95 34.3 19 6 0



With thanks to Carte Blanche for the use of the first video. (28 June 2015)

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