|Born||2 April 1973, Pretoria, South Africa|
|Debut||4 May 1999 v Northumberland at Jesmond|
|Style||Right hand bat; right arm medium pace|
|Teams||Northern Transvaal B, Northern Transvaal, Northerns, Titans, South Africa A, St Helen's Recreation, Cliftonville.|
|History||Gerald Dros was, when in full cry, a magnificent sight at the wicket. Capable of destroying most attacks, he had all the shots, often specialising in lofted drives and huge blows over midwicket. However, though those who saw him will undoubtedly remember his fast scoring, he had a very strong defence, the foundation for all who bat - successfully - as he did and was capable of playing long innings. It is a tribute to the strength of his country's cricket when he was in his prime, that he was never selected at ODI or Test level, having to be content with captaincy of South Africa A and of the South African side in the knock about mayhem known as the Hong Kong Sixes. It is rather surprising that he never tried his hand at the County game, where his attitude and ability would certainly have reaped rewards. As a bowler he was useful but, with only one first class "5 for" to his credit did not take enough wickets with his medium pace - at this, or any other level - to be accounted an all rounder. |
Aged only 18 he played for South Africa U 23 in a limited over match against the touring Australian Academy side. He was run out for 0 at No3, thus losing the chance to test his skills against the young Glen McGrath (4-1-12-3). Nor did Gerald make an impact with the ball against a batting line up including Adam Gilchrist, who captained the visitors, and the "Punter" himself. The following season, as a rather elderly schoolboy, he appeared for South African School in a triangular against India U 19 and Zimbabwe Schools. After a quiet match against Zimbabwe whose attack was led by Heath Streak, he hit form against India, making a brilliant 103. His team-mates did not support him, the next highest scorer being Herchelle Gibbs with 20. India won by 3 wickets. The final, between those two sides, was tied with Gerald falling for 20.
His first class career which began in 1993-94 with promising innings of 42 and 30 for Northern Transvaal B against Transvaal, brought him 4222 runs from 140 innings at 32.96 with 4 hundreds and 22 fifties. The first three figure score came in the 2000-01 season for Northerns against Gauteng at the New Wanderers, Johannesburg in the Super Sport series, which many traditionalists, among whom I would count myself, would rather see called the Currie Cup. Coming in his 82nd innings and 49th first class match, it was a spectacular second innings effort that set up a declaration and a win by 139 runs. Leading by 170 on the first innings Northerns needed quick runs. Batting at 4, Gerald destroyed the attack, scoring 100* off 132 balls in 159 minutes, hitting 14 fours and 2 sixes. He put on 93 for the 3rd wicket with Martin van Jaarsveld.
The following season, having hit a brilliant undefeated 93 for Northerns v Griqualand West in the Super Sport Series, the runs coming off 73 balls in 100 minutes while he added 196* for the 3rd wicket with van Jaarsveld (158*), he reached the second century of his career with a well made 117* for the SAB President's XI against India A. Captaining the side, he batted 292 minutes, faced 220 balls, hitting 16 fours and 4 sixes . It was, indeed the proverbial captain's innings and set his side on the way to convincing innings and 109 runs victory. His final two hundreds at this level came in the 2005-06 season. These were both in the SA Airways Three Day Challenge Trophy. In a drawn match against Gauteng at Pretoria, he and Nicholas van Woerkom (146) put on 265 for the 4th wicket on the first day, Gerald eventually falling to the pace of Gerhadus de Bruin. He finished with 136, which proved to be his highest score in first class cricket. He batted six minutes under four hours, and, hitting 19 fours and 1 six, faced 195 balls. The match ended in a draw. Another drawn match came against Griqualand West at the end of the pool games. Gerald enlivened it with one attractive and one spectacular innings. Batting first the Griquas reached 295 and then saw Northerns reach 319-6 before their innings was closed. At third wicket down, Gerald made 78 off 98 balls with 5 fours and 3 sixes, batting for 177 minutes. Eventually Northerns were set 308 to win. That they failed to get there in the limited time remaining was certainly no fault of Gerald's. He made 130 before being dismissed by leg spinner Nathan Arthur. Wisden summed up the carnage, "Dros reached 100 in 59 balls: in all he hit 130 in 70 balls with 7 fours and 10 sixes."
His bowling in first class matches was, as we have seen, less impressive. His solitary "5 for" coming against Boland in an away match in March 2004. it was part of a good all round performance which - he was leading the side - brought his men victory by 147 runs. In Northern's first innings of 451 he hit 11 fours in his 66 and, after securing a commanding first innings lead was eventually able to leave the hosts 366 to win. Bringing himself on 6th change returned the analysis of 4.1-0-17-5.
In List A matches six of which were for Ireland, he runs at 36.50 with 5 hundreds. His highest score of 124 was made for Ireland and is described below. His best season in South Africa at this level was in 1999-00, when. he hit 523 runs at 87.16 with 3 centuries and 2 fifties. After a 133 ball for Northerns against the touring Zimbabweans, he speeded up with an undefeated knock of exactly three figures against Kwa Zulu Natal at Centurion, which came off 119 balls, including 11 fours and two 6s. However he kept his best knock until the last match of the season, against Griqualand West. Facing a very moderate chase of 181, Northerns were two down for 27 when Gerald came in. He proceeded to destroy the bowling. Striking 14 fours and 3 sixes he raced to 105*, his best List A score in his homeland, off 86 balls in 110 minutes. Northerns won by 8 wickets, Gerald having scored his runs out of the 158 made while he was at the wicket.
Besides showing his worth at T 20, which came rather late in his career, and the knock about Hong Kong Sixes, in which he took 3 wickets in an over on one occasion, he showed considerable leadership skills. He was rewarded with the captaincy of Northerns at both first class and limited overs level, and also led their List A franchise the Titans. His work was praised by the Titans coach at the end of the 2000-01 season as, "A brilliant performance from a captain who has led from the front and instilled a winning attitude into his troops." His attitude was also noted by the national selectors and he had charge of the team at two of the Hong Kong tournaments as well as several South Africa A sides, including the 2002-03 tour of Australia.
HIs first overseas professional engagement came in 1994, when he played a season for St Helen's Recreation in the Liverpool and District Combination League, now one of the ECB's premier leagues. Usually opening the batting he had an excellent season with 1078 runs at 56.73, scoring 1 hundred and 9 fifties. He also took 22 wickets at 27.72, though never more than 3 wickets in an innings. His century - 102 - came against New Brighton early in the season, having been preceded by a 93 and 3-27 in a losing cause v Hightown. Though he had slight loss of form mid season, he finished strongly, his last four innings being 68, 84*, 82* and 92. An indication of how fast he scored may be gleaned for the stats of knock against Huyton, as he emerged from his "mid season blues", he made 77 in 81 balls with 9 fours.
Followers of the game in the NCU area will probably not need reminding of his deeds for Cliftonville, when his destructive powers impressed opponents and spectators alike. Over three seasons, 1999, 2000 and 2003 he scored 1859 runs with a highest score of 171*. That innings came in his first season, which was also his best as he racked up 823 runs at 54.87. He also took 22 wickets in his return year of 2003. He is remembered for the help he gave to his Cliftonville team-mates. Paul Stirling, also a man who believes that a cricket ball is there to be hit, being the first to admit Gerald's contribution to his development.
1999, 2003 and 2004 saw him engaged as Ireland's overseas player. It must be said that unlike some more glamorous signings he was a wholehearted contributor to the Irish cause and fully justified his selection. In his six matches he scored 254 runs a 42.23 with one fifty and one hundred. The fifty came against an Essex County Board XI at The Green in May 1999. Chasing the visitors' 196-9, Ireland had slumped to 16-2 when Gerald joined Stephen Smyth. The North Westerner was at his stylish best and they added 55 before Smyth was out. Gerald then found another useful partner in Andy Patterson who helped him post 48 for the 4th wicket. Reaching his fifty with a huge 6 off paceman Saeed, Gerald was clean bowled next ball, having apart from the six, found the boundary on seven occasions. Ireland went on to win by 2 wickets. Gerald's innings, described by Philip Boylan in The Irish Independent as " contributing a chapter on professionalism South African style" was all the more remarkable as it was made with a badly bruised thumb.
At the end of the 2003 season, Ireland played Hertfordshire at Bishop's Stortford in the preliminary round of the 2004 competition now under Cheltenham and Gloucester sponsorship. Ireland won by 75 runs thanks to two magnificent innings which enabled them to reach a formidable 387-4. On a very hard wicket, Ireland lost Jeremy Bray early on but Jason Molins and Andre Botha added 157 for the second wicket before the opener was out. Enter Gerald. The South African duo ran their hosts ragged putting on 143 for the third wicket, Botha making 139 off 110 balls. Gerald, batting for much of his innings with the handicap of a broken toe - which simply meant that he hit more boundaries to avoid running - and surviving a confident appeal for caught behind on 26 - made his 124 off 81 balls with eleven 4s and 7 sixes, three of which were huge hits over midwicket. He and Botha called and held between overs conversations in Afrikaans, causing an exasperated Hertfordshire captain to exhort his team to "Take a wicket and get a Paddy in !"
Gerald did not return to Cliftonville the following season but, with the assistance of a free air ticket, did return for Ireland's Cheltenham and Gloucester Campaign. He was in the side which won a memorable 5 wicket victory over Surrey at Castle Avenue. In a rain interrupted match the County were probably pleased enough with their 261 all out. Gerald had taken part in the attack grabbing the valuable wicket of Ali Brown, one of the most dangerous one day batsmen in England. Brown had made a piratical 67 off 53 balls with 6 fours and 4 sixes.. Ireland were 137-2 when Gerald came in. His quick 45 put the result beyond doubt. He faced 53 balls, hitting 3 fours and one six.
Gerald Dros retired from all major cricket at the end of the 2006-07 season. He became involved in committee work for the South African Players Association. He will be well remembered in Ireland for the power of his stroke play, his professionalism and his commitment to his team's cause.
Edward Liddle, February 2011
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