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McCorkell scores a century

The oldest surviving Hampshire cricketer lives on the South Coast.

29 March 2012 | SIYABONGA MCHUNU

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A FORMER wicketkeeper for Hampshire Cricket Club in England, Neil McCorkell celebrated his 100th birthday with family and friends at his Uvongo home last Friday.
Mr McCorkell, who has lived with his son Dennis on the South Coast for more than 30 years, played 396 first-class matches for Hampshire between 1932-1951.

In what was an extraordinarily long career, especially for that period, Mr McCorkell scored 16 000 runs. These included 17 first class centuries and a top score of 203 against Gloucester in his final year of county cricket.

Some 60 years ago he emigrated to South Africa to take up the position as cricket coach and groundsman at Parktown Boys’ High in Johannesburg. He remained there for more than 30 years before retiring to the South Coast.

He has two sons, Dennis and Raymond, four grandchildren, Neil, Wayne, Lauren and Jean and two great grandchildren. At the lofty age of 100, Mr McCorkell has seen many changes in the world of cricket.

As he points out, for most of the 20th century cricketers were forced to play on uncovered pitches - a nightmare for batsmen and hugely unpredictable for wicket keepers.

However, Mr McCorkell didn’t allow that to hinder him, as he took 532 catches and made 185 stumpings during his tenure with the county team.

He is often regarded as the wicketkeeper who helped the Hampshire bowlers improve their bowling figures.

Sadly, he never got to play Test cricket, but he was a part of Lord Tennyson’s XI which toured India in 1937. He played 10 matches on that tour.

Some critics have even gone as far as suggesting that he is Hampshire’s most distinguished wicketkeeper/batsman ever, having scored more than 1 000 runs  a season on nine occasions.

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