|Born||Kenneth Colin Bland|
April 5, 1938
|Died||April 14, 2018 (aged 80)|
|Education||Milton High School|
Kenneth Colin Bland was a Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe) cricketer who played in 21 Tests for South Africa in the 1960s scoring 1669 runs at an average of 49.08. He is regarded as one of the greatest fielders in the history of Test cricket.
Kenneth Colin Bland was born at Bulawayo on-5 April 1938, a third generation Rhodesian of Scottish descent.
Colin Bland was educated at Milton High School in Bulawayo.
Bland originally came from Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, which was then not a Test cricket-playing nation. He also played for the South African provincial sides Eastern Province and Orange Free State. A tall and elegant right-handed batsman, Bland broke into the South African Test team in 1961, and was a regular until 1966-67. As South Africa in the apartheid era played Test cricket only against England, Australia and New Zealand, his career was restricted to just 21 Tests, in which he scored 1,669 runs, including three centuries. His highest Test score came in the Second Test against England at Johannesburg in 1964-65; South Africa followed on 214 behind, and was 109 for 4 in the second innings when Bland came in and hit 144 not out in just over 4 hours to save the match.
His talent at cricket was quick to manifest itself when he scored his first century at the age of ten for Baines Junior School. He played for Rhodesian and South African Schools in 1956 and 1957 and made his first-class debut as a nervous eighteen-year-old Milton schoolboy honoured by selection for Rhodesia against Peter May's 1956-57 MCC touring side. By March 1965, Bland had become the first man to score 1 000 first-class runs in a South African season. He did it by hitting 62 for Rhodesia in a match against English County champions Worcestershire at Salisbury. The innings took his aggregate to 1048 runs, easily beating McGlew's previous record of 953.
Bland's chief fame, though, rested on his fielding. The general consensus is that he was the finest cover fieldsman of his time, and rated by some as the finest ever, he was able to the turn the course of whole matches. His spectacular run out of Ken Barrington in the Lord's Test of 1965, followed by a similar dismissal of Jim Parks, may have prevented England from establishing a match-winning first innings lead, the match eventually being drawn. Brian Johnston recalled of the 1965 tour, "For the first time I heard people saying that they must go to a match especially to watch a fielder."
Bland was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1966; he is one of only two players so honoured (the other is Stuart Surridge) to be depicted in the accompanying portrait fielding, rather than batting, bowling or keeping. When Wisden asked Peter van der Merwe in 1999 to name the five outstanding cricketers of the twentieth century, he included Colin Bland, saying, "He revolutionised the attitude to fielding, and set a standard not yet equalled."
Bland retired from Test cricket after injury forced him out of the side after the first Test in 1966–67. He continued to play first-class cricket in South Africa until the 1973–74 season.
Bland played 21 Tests for South Africa in the 1960s but in later life moved to London and worked for the MCC as a fielding consultant in 2004. A formidable presence mainly at cover but also at mid-on, Bland was renowned for the accuracy and power of his throwing and athleticism. Nicknamed the “Golden Eagle”, he raised the art of fielding and began a proud tradition of fine South African fielders that later included Jonty Rhodes and, most recently, AB De Villiers.
On 14 April 2018, Bland died at his home in London after a prolonged battle with colon cancer.