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World Cup flashbacks: Non-white Omar Henry played for South Africa in WC 1992 even before he voted in his own country

World Cup flashbacks: Non-white Omar Henry played for South Africa in WC 1992 even before he voted in his own country

Bengaluru, April 16: The 1992 World Cup was a special for the cricketing world as that edition saw South Africa, an old competitor in world cricket, making their first appearance in the tournament following post-Apartheid readmission.

Led by Kepler Wessels, the side had impressed all by making it to the semifinals where they lost to England in a bizarre manner. However, that was not the only reason for which SA stole the headline in the 1992 WC.

It was also in that World Cup that a slow left-arm spinner all-rounder from South Africa had made the headlines. He was 40 at that time but nonetheless turned the eyeballs for a great reason. He was Omar Henry who had represented his country on the world stage - the 1992 World Cup - even before cast his first vote on his home soil.

South Africa was still over two years away from holding its first national election in which people of all colour could cast their ballots. However, Henry's feat on the cricket field was a pleasing forecast about South Africa's future as a rainbow nation.

Henry played one game at WC 1992; against Sri Lanka

Henry played just one game at the World Cup in 1992 played in Australia and New Zealand. He appeared in the game against Sri Lanka in Wellington that the Proteas lost by 3 wickets, thanks to Arjuna Ranatunga's heroics. Henry scored 11 runs off 13 balls and took the wicket of Lankan wicket-keeper-batsman Hashan Tillakaratne while bowling 10 overs in which he gave 31 runs. It was not an emphatic statement by any means but Henry's playing for SA was more a political triumph for a nation that had been struggling within itself over several decades.

SAvSL Scorecard

Henry ended up playing just three ODIs and as many Tests in his short international career in 1991-92, taking five wickets in all. It was in 1992 that Henry also became the first non-White to play for South Africa in a Test after Apartheid when they met India in Durban.

That Henry was also an established batsman becomes evident when one looks at his first-class career. In first-class and List 'A' games, the left-hand cricketer amassed almost 7,000 runs and took nearly 550 wickets with five hundreds and 22 five-wicket hauls.

In 1986, when a rebel Australian team toured South Africa that remained cricket-starved in the Apartheid years, Henry made a surprise debut in the third 'Test' at Kingsmead, Durban, as the first pick Alan Kourie had a tough time in the first two games.

The Cap Province-born Henry, 34 then, was picked in the playing XI replacing Kourie and it was a historic moment for South African cricket for a non-white cricketer was considered fit to represent South Africa. However, with the rose also came the thorns. The white supremacists did not like the man's elevation and his family had to be given security.

But six years later, the man went on to play for South Africa in a World Cup and that was the highest point for both him and the country's cricket.

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    Story first published: Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 0:52 [IST]
    Other articles published on Apr 16, 2019
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