St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
St George's Park - John Maguire
John Norman Maguire
Not even his most ardent supporter would have predicted just how big a success John Maguire would be when he returned to South Africa last summer to begin the first season of a two-year contract with Eastern Province.
Bald statistics will never tell the whole story, but the tall, lean Australian's bowling figures in the three major competitions bear repeating - 16 wickets in the Nissan Shield at 15,10; 15 wickets in the Benson and Hedges night series at 22,40; and a record-breaking 45 wickets in the Currie Cup at an average of 16,90.
His efforts in the Currie Cup placed him at the top of the national averages and deservedly led to his being named as the Player of the Series.
During the final he surpassed Athol McKinnon's 19-year-old Eastern Province record of 44 Currie Cup wickets in a season.
Add to that the 15 wickets he claimed in two early season first-class friendlies against Boland and Border, and you have an overall total of 91 wickets for EP during the season - an exceptional feat and one which is unlikely to be repeated in a hurry.
At a pre-season press conference announcing Maguire's contract with EP, captain Kepler Wessels said he believed the fast-medium seamer would fit precisely into EP's plans for the season, and he would be a perfect foil for the faster and more aggressive Rod McCurdy.
Wessels could not have realised just how accurate his prediction would be, even to the extent that Maguire overshadowed his compatriot's sizeable contribution to Eastern Province's successes last season.
Maguire is a fitness fanatic, and his superb conditioning allowed him to bowl a remarkable 359 overs in the Currie Cup, culminating in a marathon session of 63 overs in the Currie Cup final where his sheer persistence and determination brought him his fourth five-wicket haul in the competition.
Maguire's success revolved around his ability to maintain an impeccable line and length, attributes which brought him a good deal of success on the pitches in Transvaal and Free State.
Always accurate, he proved a highly difficult opponent on any pitch that lent him assistance and gave an early indication of his value to the side with 6/49 against Transvaal in the opening Currie Cup fixture.
In three away matches - Transvaal, Northern and Free State - Maguire claimed no fewer than 25 wickets.
He was less successful on the normally docile St George's Park pitch but never gave up trying, always picking up wickets at important stages.
One occasion which amply demonstrated his incisive bowling on a seaming pitch was in the second leg of the Nissan Shield final against Northern Transvaal at Centurion Park.
On a grassy wicket, Maguire shot out dangermen Michael Haysman and Mike Rindel for a combined total of six runs and later added Noel Day to his list for figures of 3/24 in 11 overs, an effort which played no small role in Eastern Province's eventual triumph.
Quiet and unassuming, Maguire was a superb example to the younger players in the side with his never-say-die approach.
The experience gained from three Tests and 23 one-day internationals, as well as the two tours to South Africa with Kim Hughes' side, was of immense benefit to Eastern Province, making him one of their most successful imports ever.
The 1990 Protea Cricket Annual of South Africa.