*fierce battle between bat and ball was a regular feature in these encounters
*Richie Benaud was at the last phase of his illustrious career in 1963/64 tour
*Bob Simpson was the key opening batsman for Australia
Apart from the gruelling contests that Australia had with the West Indies in the swinging sixties, there was some of the most competitive cricket of that era with South Africa that Australia was proudly a part of. There were three series between the two countries in this period, two of them in South Africa(1966/67 and 1969/70) and one in Australia(1963/64). While the sixties began, South Africa was a n upcoming unit and Australia was well established under the likes of Richie Benaud and Bill Lawry and as they were passing the torch to the seventies, South Africa were just starting to have their nose above Australia, to be halted only by that Apartheid boycott.
Here’s some reflection of what happened during that time……….
*SOUTH AFRICA TOUR OF AUSRALIA 1963/64
the tour that set the base for the explosive rivalry, one that saw young Graeme Pollock make his debut and also happened to be Richie Benaud’s last.
*Ian Chappel dropping Graeme Pollock
*AUSTRALIA TOUR OF SOUH AFRICA 1966/67
*Mike Procter was a surprise package indeed-bowling at tremendous pace off the wrong foot and a powerful batsman too.
A five test rubber. Bobby Simpson was captaining Australia after Benaud and what transpired in the series was South Africa playing aggressive cricket in their backyard and thumping Australia 3-1. It’s vividly remembered for a very funny incident: during the first test match at Johannesburg from 23rd to the 28th of December with 25th an off day, Bobby Simpson felt that the Aussies were not aggressive enough to match the South Africans and needed to be so……and so happens to convey this to his opening partner-Bill Lawry….he decides to convey it to the South Africans by being more aggressive in running after he lunch break and while he tucks off the ball and attempts running three and decides that it had only a couple, but it’s too late for him to return and is out the very first ball. South Africa did come home from Australia after levelling(1-1) against probably the strongest team in the world in the ‘63/64 tour and in the process garnering a lot of confidence for a young side.
*Bill Lawry and Bob Simpson’s opening pair was impeccable.
Moreover Benaud was gone, and Australia was very weak in the spin department post his departure. The South African middle order was strong with Lindsay, Pollock (RG) and Ali Bacher, while also having services of Mike Procter(who later established himself a very useful all-rounder in the English county circuit) in the lower middle order along wih the captain Van de Merwe. Graeme Pollock was established now and had a lot of hopes rested on him.-
AUSTRALIA TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA 1969/70
*BarryRichards emerged in the tour that whitewashed the Aussies
*Ian Chappel was one of the few positives that Australia could take.
What happened in 1969/70 was to capture the eye of the entire cricketing fraternity. South Africa thumped Australia 4-0 with fantastic contributions from Graeme Pollock (his 274 being the standout knock) with great support from the newcomer in Barry Richards who happened to play in his first and only test series officially. Australia who were on top of the cricketing world were surely taken aback and had the unfortunate apartheid-originated sports boycott not happened, one wonders how high would the South Africans could have gone.
*Celebrations involving the former captain Ali Bacher