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Bruce Mitchell (cricketer)

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Bruce Mitchell 8 January 1909 – 1 July 1995 was a South African cricketer who played in 42 Tests from 1929 to 1949 He was a right-handed opening batsman and played in every Test South Africa played in that period

By the end of his career he had 3471 Test runs to his name which at the time was a national record With his eight centuries he finished just behind Dudley Nourse who made 9


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Early first-class career
  • 3 Test cricket
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Early life

The son of a doctor, Mitchell grew up in Johannesburg, where he showed unusual cricket ability as a boy At the age of six he was coached by Ernest Halliwell, the former South African Test captain At school at St John's College, Johannesburg, he received further coaching from the school's cricket coach, A G MacDonald In his teens he used his large hands to master leg-spin bowling

Early first-class career

Mitchell made his first-class debut for Transvaal, against Border, at the age of 17 He took 11 wickets with his legbreaks and googlies It was only later in the following season that he started to develop his batting In 1927–28 the MCC toured South Africa and Mitchell, batting at 3, struck 40 runs He showcased his all-round abilities against Natal in the 1928–29 trial matches and later in a game against Griqualand West he showed his fighting spirit by rescuing his side after the top six batsmen scored no more than 11 runs between them His maiden first-class century came in England, against the successful Yorkshire side at Sheffield For most of the games in the rest of the tour he opened the batting and it would be a position that he would stay in for most of his career

Test cricket

His Test debut came against England on 15 June 1929 at Edgbaston In both innings he produced a hundred-run opening stand with Robert Catterall and finished the game with 88 and 61 not out The rest of the series was disappointing and he ended the Test tour with 251 runs at 3137

In 1930–31, he was to meet England of his own shores and in the 1st Test he made a second innings 72 in a low-scoring encounter which South Africa went on to win He was back as opener in the 2nd Test at Newlands and he scored a national record opening stand of 260 with Jack Siedle for which Mitchell contributed 123 He scored a further three half centuries in the remaining three Test to finish with 455 runs at 5055

In the summer of 1931–32, he toured Australia and New Zealand but was ill for most of the tour, finishing with 1048 runs at 3493 His best performances were 75 and 95 at Adelaide and 58 at Brisbane

His form was better in New Zealand, after a century against Auckland he scored 113 in the 1st Test, at Christchurch

The South Africans toured the UK in 1935 and Mitchell finished second in the averages with 1451 runs at 4534 despite missing 8 matches at the start of the tour In addition he also took 35 wickets at 1902 which allowed him to top the bowling averages In the Tests he scored 488 runs at 6971 which included centuries at Lord's and The Oval His innings of 164 not out at Lord's was made in the second innings and helped his side to their first ever win against England in England Another highlight of the tour was his highest-ever first class score of 195 which he made against Surrey at the Oval This included and opening stand of 330 with Eric Rowan which was the highest ever partnership by a South African pair in England

The Australians visited South Africa in 1935–36 and in his 7 matches he only once passed 50 He bowling however was more successful, in the 2nd Test he took 4 for 5, 3 of those wickets in the same over In the 5th Test at Kingsmead he took 5 for 87 which by the end of his Test career was his only 5 wicket haul

Before the war interrupted his career, he played a series against England where he finished with 466 at 5825, including a century in a losing cause at Kingsmead

He went on to serve with the Transvaal Scottish Regiment in East Africa and on return in 1945–46 he scored 426 runs at 4733 in the domestic season Against Griqualand West he and Alan Melville made a new South African seventh-wicket record of 299

Mitchell returned to the UK in 1947 and went one better than his last tour there by topping the first-class average with 2014 runs at 6103 His effort included 8 centuries He finished second in the Test averages with 597 runs at 6633 The aggregate however was the highest by a South African on tour In the final Test, at the Oval, he wrote his name in the record books by becoming the second South African to score two centuries in a Test He batted over 13 hours for his innings of 120 and 189 not out, the latter finished as his highest Test score

It was then England's turn to tour South Africa and with an innings of 120 at Newlands in the third Test he equalled Herbie Taylor's record of 7 Test centuries against England In the final Test he made 99 and 56 at Port Elizabeth This turned out to be his last Test match for South Africa as he finished his Test career the way he started it with a pair of 50s


  1. ^ "Bruce Mitchell" wwwcricketarchivecom Retrieved 2012-01-17 
  2. ^ Louis Duffus, Cricketers of the Veld, Sampson Low, Marston & Co, London, 1946, pp 26–28

External links

  • Cricinfo profile

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