St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
St George's Park - Rupert Hanley
After a record-breaking season in the 'A' Section of the S A Breweries Currie Cup when he more than doubled his bowling figures for any previous year. Blond Rupert Hanley, shirt sweat soaked and flapping in the breeze, had answered his country's call and was posted to Tempe for military duty, far beyond the reach of the Eastern Province Selectors.
This was unfortunate in that he finished the 1974-75 season riding the crest of an "A" Section wave.
Click image to enlarge
His programme, wearing Free State colours, for 1975-76 consists of 6 matches, plus the Gillette Fixture against Transvaal but there was a complete lack of 'bite' for one who was on the threshold of big things.
Born in Port Elizabeth on January 29, 1952, Rupert was introduced to the game in the back garden of his parents house. His father, an enthusiast in every sense of the word, had installed a matting wicket on which Rupert, an elder brother and numerous friends played almost daily, virtually from the time they were old enough to hold a bat.
His mother, another sports fanatic, also gave the participants every encouragement and by the time Rupert had had the necessity for school drummed into him by his parents, he found himself at St. George's Prep., Port Elizabeth, where he seemed to make the 1st XI without difficulty.
The next big step was the 1st XI College level. Rupert was awarded his Cricket Colours at St. Andrew's College, Grahamstown where he spent four years.
He then moved to the Grey High School for the final year, and where he again qualified for his Colours. The proudest moment of his school career as a player was when he was chosen to play for Eastern Province Schools in the 1969 Nuffield Week at Pietermaritzburg.
Turning to Hanley's first-class career, this started in December 1970 when he made his debut for Eastern Province against Western Province whilst still at school. He played in front of his home crowd but it is possible that the occasion was a bit much for the lad.
Scrutiny of the records reflects that he kept his wicket intact in each innings, without actually troubling the scorer, and that his l6 overs cost 53 runs for the single wicket he captured.
At this stage he was a regular member of the Port Elizabeth Cricket Club and was concentrating on hockey and golf in the off-season.
His next appearance in first-class cricket was in the 1972-73 season. He captured a couple of Natal wickets, but it was against the Robins XI, midway through the season, that he made his first big haul.
Playing their first match after leaving England in the depth of the mid-winter, the Robins' XI really went on the rampage. The Middlesex openers, Smith and Radley, put on 200 in less than even time and the Province bowlers had little to show for their efforts.
At the visitors second attempt Hanley struck three early blows having dismissed Smith, Radley and Knight with only 21 on the board.
The young fast bowler really had the bit between his teeth and when the visitors had reached 81 for 8 Hanley had claimed another 3 victims to return the excellent figures of 24,1 - 9 - 34 -6 against an overseas touring team in what was only his third first-class match.
This gained him recognition in the form of a place in the South African Invitation XI, captained by Ali Bacher, in the final match of the Robins' XI tour.
It is understandable that he was not allowed to repeat the success of his previous encounter.
Rupert thus completed his first full season with 23 wickets at 23.52 apiece in 7 matches He was gradually gaining in confidence and in the 6 matches of the 1973-4 season his 21 wickets cost 23.19 each, with 3 for 51 and 4 for 63 against Western Province as his best performance.
At the end of the South African domestic season Rupert spent some time in England. It was during that visit that Derrick Robins invited the fast bowler, in addition to four other South Africans - Richards, Rice, Swart and AJS Smith, to complete his side to oppose the touring Pakistan team at the Saffron Ground, Eastbourne.
In reply to the Robins 403 for 5 wickets, the Pakistan first innings realised 319. Hanley and Swart shared the new ball, taking 8 wickets of which Hanley's share was 19-5-52-5. This was his only match overseas, but in that company the experience was invaluable.
The record-breaking 1974-75 season deservedly brought Rupert recognition as one of the South African Cricket Annual's "Five Cricketers of 1975" after only 25 matches and requiring only 3 more wickets to reach the coveted 100 wicket target.
His most successful matches were against Western Province, Five wickets in each innings in the match at St George's Park and 4 for 29 at Newlands. The Natal matches brought Rupert another 11 wickets and the visit of Transvaal added another six to the speed merchants' total of 35 Currie Cup wickets.
In the final match of the Derrick Robins tour the opponents "Presidents' XI" were selected by SACA President Bon Wallace. His admiration of Young Hanley's progress was reflected in the inclusion of the Eastern Province pace man to share the opening attack with Vintcent Van der BijL.South African Cricket Annual -1975