St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
St George's Park - Rod McCurdy
Rodney John McCurdy
Making up one-third of the Australian connection in Eastern Province cricket, along with skipper Kepler Wessels and John Maguire, paceman Rod McCurdy had quite his most outstanding season for his adopted province in the 1989/90 summer.
The strongly-built fast bowler first linked up with Eastern Province at the tail-end of the 1986/87 season following the conclusion of the second Australian tour.
He made an immediate impression with 5/65 on debut, but Eastern Province's batting collapse in the second innings of the Currie Cup semifinal against Western Province at St George's Park meant no more provincial appearances that season.
Returning to Eastern Province the next season, McCurdy again had an early influence on the side's fortunes on the field but an unfortunate accident in December while water-skiing at St Francis Bay resulted in a badly injured knee, which prevented him from playing again in that season.
But better days were ahead for Eastern Province and McCurdy.
In 1988/89, he enjoyed a near-full season of provincial cricket, although he was hampered by a niggling ankle problem which resulted in an operation in January and saw him miss three Currie Cup games.
After seven wickets in the opening match against Free State, McCurdy did not have a hugely successful Currie Cup season, taking 20 wickets at 23,00 apiece, but his efforts in the final - five wickets in the match and a brilliant caught and bowled chance to dismiss Henry Fotherinham in the second innings - made him a central figure in Eastern Province's historic, first-ever triumph.
Any thoughts that McCurdy had not been full value to EP cricket, few as they may have been considering his positive approach, were banished forever last summer.
Assuming the role of senior strike bowler following the departure of Greg Thomas, the aggressive Aussie responded magnificently.
In tandem with Maguire, McCurdy produced his best cricket for Eastern Province, taking 75 wickets in all first-class and limited overs matches and his part in EP's golden summer cannot be over-emphasised.
While McCurdy was the epitome of steadiness in the Currie Cup, claiming 38 wickets at an average of 23,60, his performance in Eastern Province's one-day triumphs made perhaps a more lasting impression.
Entrusted with the unenviable task of bowling "at the death," McCurdy seldom wavered from bowling a full length, producing deliveries which made run-making difficult and more often than not rattled the stumps as batsmen swung wildly across the line.
McCurdy's bowling was one of the major weapons in Eastern Province's first leg win in the Nissan Shield against Northern Transvaal in a hectic finish at St George's Park.
With 11 runs needed by Northerns in the final over, McCurdy kept his composure to concede four runs off five balls for the dismissals of Noel Day (run out) and Willie Morris (bowled) before Anton Ferreira hit the final ball for a meaningless boundary.
McCurdy was no less effective in the night series, crowning the season with a superb haul of 5/30 against Natal in the final, although the fast bowler probably feels his four off the last ball of the match to give Eastern Province victory in an extraordinary finish deserves the greater merit.
It was noticeable how Wessels at times relied on McCurdy to put a brake on the scoring or gain a breakthrough when EP were struggling.
Sometimes recalled to the attack for just two or three overs, the Australian invariably produced the goods.
Although his aggressive and forthright manner on the field may irk some fans, particularly those in the Free State, there can be no doubt the McCurdy's professional approach and positive attitude had a major influence on Eastern Province cricket.
1990 PROTEA CRICKET ANNUAL OF SOUTH AFRICA.