St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Personalities St George's Park - Lorrie Wilmot
Lorrie Wilmot

The news that the colourful cricket character, Lorrie Wilmot, 60, had committed suicide in Grahamstown came as a shock to EP cricket fans. Wilmot shot himself with a shotgun on Sunday, March 1, 2004.

In March 2000 Wilmot was convicted in the Grahamstown regional court of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1998.

He was sentenced by regional court magistrate Mzonke Dunywa to twelve years in prison, three years of which were suspended for five years. He appealed to the Grahamstown High Court, but his conviction and sentence were upheld.

Wilmot then appealed to the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein where he sought to have new evidence introduced. The Supreme Court took the unusual step of setting aside Wilmot’s conviction and referring it back to the regional court.

After considering the new evidence, Mr Dunywa again convicted Wilmot of rape in May 2003. However, at his sentencing hearing in April, Wilmot’s counsel, advocate Terry Price, told Mr Dunywa the incident had cost Wilmot “everything”.

Mr Price said Wilmot’s wife, Pam, had divorced him during the trial, and he had lost his farm which had been in the family for many years. Mr Price said the trial had cost Wilmot R472 000.

Wilmot’s sentence was reduced to nine years in prison, with two years suspended for five years. Mr Price indicated at the time that he would again appeal the conviction and sentencing to the Grahamstown High Court.

It is really sad to see such a prominent player fall from grace for such a foolhardy act.

However, it is as captain of the EP cricket team that we acknowledge his contribution to the sport.

Wilmot’s hitting exploits left a lasting impression

By Neale Emslie

ALTHOUGH he never received national colours, big hitting Lorrie Wilmot was one of the finest players produced by the cricket-mad farming areas of Grahamstown.

Click image to enlarge
Lorrie Wilmot
The former EP and Border captain, who was found dead on Sunday evening, left a lasting impression on many fans countrywide with his hitting exploits and determination as a tough middle-order batsman.

He may have played in the shadow of the incomparable Graeme Pollock during his time with EP, but there can be no doubting the indelible memories Wilmot left during his provincial career, which spanned three decades.

For 22 summers, from 1958 to 1980, he played for EP teams (Nuffield, provincial and country districts). After retiring in 1976, he returned from the wilderness and a diet of “pineapple” cricket two years later, answering an SOS call to lead a young EP side for two seasons when the province was struggling.

In the mid-1980s he made another comeback, playing for and captaining Border from 1985-86 to 1988-89, when he finally retired at the age of 45.

Wilmot’s success as a provincial player was made more amazing by the fact that one weekend he would be involved in country club cricket at Manley Flats or Salem, and the next he would be facing the best bowlers South Africa had to offer at the Wanderers or Newlands. His ability to make that transition spoke volumes for his cricketing talent.

His career was dotted with unforgettable highlights and he was not one to duck controversy.

The clearest example of that came in November, 1972 when, with Rhodesia needing six runs to win and a rampant Mike Procter at the crease, Wilmot took his team from the field with the umpires ruling there was still one over left. (Read about this match)

Wilmot insisted the umpires had told him that the final 20 overs had started the over before the final drinks break and that the match was completed. Later, the SA Cricket Union ruled in favour of Wilmot, denying Rhodesia a golden chance of winning the Currie Cup.

Seven years earlier, Rhodesia were on the receiving end of one of Wilmot’s most memorable achievements. Facing Rhodesia’s total of 450, the 22-year-old Wilmot helped take EP to 485 with an innings of 222 not out after the visitors had been reduced to 22 for two. It was the highest score by an EP batsman in the domestic first-class competition until James Bryant made 234 against North West last season.

For years, Wilmot and Pollock were the thorns in the flesh of many provincial attacks, but arguably their finest hour came against Natal in 1976 when they put on 338 at St George’s Park – Wilmot 152, Pollock 194 – after EP had slumped to 15 for four.

Running between the wickets when these two were at the crease was a nightmare. It was no surprise to find them both scampering for the same crease at one stage. Fortunately for the home crowd, Natal made a bigger hash of things and they survived to continue the onslaught.

Big hitting was a trait often associated with Wilmot. Nobody will forget the six he hit off Eddie Barlow in the 1973 Gillette Cup final between EP and WP at the Wanderers. The ball soared over the boundary, bounced on the old stadium roof and landed on the adjacent golf course. Barlow, and everyone else, could only gape in amazement.

In 1976, Wilmot received national recognition of sorts when he turned out for an SA President’s team against the International Wanderers, led by Aussie Greg Chappell. It was Wilmot’s 100th first-class match and he marked the occasion with 117 against an attack which included Aussies Max Walker and Ashley Mallett, and English spinner Derek Underwood.

In his provincial career – from 1961 to 1989 – Wilmot played 147 first-class matches and made 7 687 runs at an average of 32,02 with 12 centuries.

The Herald.
March 2, 2004.

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