We went looking for Harry Bromfield, the former South African cricketer who played in nine Tests from 1961-65. And we found him right in our backyard (well close to!).
Harry is now 78 years old and living with his wife, Joan, in Bergvliet, Cape Town. He is still a very busy man, who is thriving on challenge and diversity and doing a lot of work for his community. He says that he works “eight days a week”, plans his day in the early hours, and is constantly on the “go” and this keeps him fit – physically and mentally.
You will probably best remember Harry for his marathon spell of 57 overs with 26 maidens, taking 5 for 88 out of an England total of 442 in the third Test in Newlands in 1965 – 44 years ago. He created the record for being the first South African spinner that took a fifer in a home Test match.*
Harry’s cricket passion developed at High School. His cricket captains always regarded him as a batsman, while deep inside him, there was a bowler itching to be let loose. Back at home, Harry and a group of friends played cricket almost every afternoon in a back street behind his house with a tennis bowl and a bat made from an old plank. This is where he developed the ability to spin a ball and bowl with some accuracy.
From a back street to a 12-year first-class career with Western Province (1956 to 1968) – this saw him capture 201 wickets as a useful offbreak bowler. However, getting into the South African team did not come easily. Many people thought he had the chance of a Springbok Cap, but standing squarely in his way and keeping him out of the national team was a very capable bowler by the name of Hugh Tayfield. However, Harry made his Test debut against New Zealand in 1961 after the retirement of Hugh Tayfield.
A talented cricketer and a right-arm off-spinner, Harry played in nine Tests for South Africa, the last being at Lords in 1965. Harry took two wickets in the match. One of his biggest successes, however, was grabbing 8 for 69 against Lancashire at Old Trafford.
Harry remembers fondly his first test match in Durban where he had 9 catches in the series . One of these catches was balanced so precariously in his cupped hands, that there he was, in a prostrate position, too scared to move, in case the ball fell out of his hands. But – all was well and good – he managed to hold on to it.
Harry still keeps up to date with his ex-team mates. They get together annually for a reunion at the Mowbray Golf Club. Harry’s cricket career may have been some forty years ago, but the passion, interest and joy of cricket is still evident in the way in he which he narrates his stories and warmheartedly shows us his trophies, scrapbooks and stumps.
Harry Bromfield – Springbok cricketer
*Update: 15 June 2020
One of our readers, a Mr. D. Dawber has challenged some of the facts in the above article. Thank you for putting us right. He says “I have to challenge one point made. Hugh Tayfield took a fifer in a home test before Harry did. In fact Tayfield took 9 for 113 in the second innings of the fourth test inn 1956-7 v England.”