St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
St George's Park - Anthony "Dassie" Biggs
Anthony "Dassie" Biggs
Better known to his friends as "Tony", Biggs was born at Graaff Reinet on April 26, 1946, and started his cricket career at the Union High School.
As a junior the scholars only played two matches a year but he was fortunate in the coaching he received from the professionals Harry Halliday, Fred Gardner, Basil Bridge and Barrie Meyer.
Having shaken the dust of junior school off his feet Tony, entered the senior school and immediately started playing in the second XI. This brought increased competition, more intensive coaching from the professionals and the added thrill of playing in the Karroo Second League with the adults.
His second year at high school found young Biggs in the school First XI and in 1962-63 and 1964 he was chosen to represent Eastern Province Schools in the Nuffield Week.
In each of the three 'Weeks' he justified his selection and his all-round performances impressed the National Selectors. The first of his SA Schools' XI caps was awarded in 1963 after being in the runs on each of the five days.
In March of that year he was one of the 15 players chosen to tour England and in 15 innings he scored more than 300 runs with 68 against Barclay's Bank at Norbury, Surrey, his top score. Included in the same team were the professionals Procter, Richards and Ackerman.
In 1964 he scored 29 for SA Schools against North-Eastern Transvaal and the following season was awarded his fourth SA Schools cap - a distinction held by Richards (Natal) and Rosendorff (OFS). The record at that stage was held by Hylton Ackerman of Border with six.
In the same season 1964/65, Tony played his first game for Eastern Province against North-Eastern Transvaal. His off-spinners brought him a few wickets, but he only bowls on rare occasions and is played mainly as a batsman.
At Natal University he played regularly in the Senior League and for South African Universities and Eastern Province. In 1967 the opportunity for further valuable experience came with his selection as a member of the SA Universities team to tour England.
In a 21 match tour, including first-class matches against Oxford and Cambridge, played on a variety of wickets, Tony adapted himself to the strange conditions and in 18 innings scored 700 runs with an average of 63.63, his best effort being an undefeated century against a Hampshire XI at Southampton.
The experience gained on this tour under the guidance of Springbok Syd Burke proved the turning point in his playing career. He developed into a mature and responsible batsman and gradually established a reputation as one of the most promising opening batsmen in the country.
He and his partner, Arthur Short, another Eastern Province and South African Schools' product, teamed up to form an impressive opening combination which proved the finest and most reliable that Eastern Province had been able to field for many years.
The first legacy arising from his overseas tour with the University side was the 156 - his maiden century - Tony scored at Newlands when playing for SA Universities against the full Western Province Currie Cup team.
He thrashed the province attack to the tune of a six and 19 fours in a four-and-a-half hour innings which gave him a batting average of 36.66 for the season.
Two century partnerships - 115 for the 5th wicket against Western Province with GS Hugo and a thrilling 3rd wicket stand of 101 with the great Graeme Pollock against North-Easterns added to his laurels.
The season 1968/69 was undoubtedly his best to date. In the match against Rhodesia at St George's Park, Tony passed the 1,000 run milestone during an innings of 71, in the course of which, with colleague Short contributing an 80, the two players, in their early twenties, put on 135 for the first wicket.
Further half centuries against Natal and Transvaal emphasised his ability to punish the experienced bowling line-up fielded by their opponents in the 'A' Section.
He finished the season with an aggregate of 542 runs (45.16) which was only exceeded by his captain.
He was always encouraged by his parents and his brother, who also played fer SA Schools, helped by bowling to Tony for hours on end.
After leaving Natal University he made an attempt to build a career in Commerce. But he decided that this was not his cup of tea and, after working in Port Elizabeth for a year, he returned home to the life he had grown up with to join his father and brother as a farmer.