Player Profile - Alan Dawson

Alan Dawson (l) with fellow former Proteas, Jonty Rhodes and Brian McMillan
Alan Dawson (l) with fellow former Proteas, Jonty Rhodes and Brian McMillan

In the build-up to the Over-50s Cricket World Cup, we have been looking at players who are likely to have an important impact for their team at the tournament.

Today we focus on South African bowler Alan Dawson. One of five ex-internationals in the South African side, Dawson played two Test matches and 19 ODIs for his country between 1998 and 2004.

Dawson had the misfortune to be playing when the likes of Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini, plus all-rounders like Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusener, made it rather difficult to break into the South African side as a pace bowler. This was despite fantastic records at first-class (305 wickets at 25.42, with a best of 6/18) and List-A (232 wickets at 22.46) level.

Dawson’s two Test matches were played in Bangladesh - not exactly a seam bowler’s paradise. He acquitted himself well, taking 5 wickets at 23.39, but never received another Test call-up. He had a few more opportunities at ODI level, taking 21 wickets at 34.04 from 19 matches.

Dawson is the first to admit he never had the pace of a Donald or an Ntini. “I was never really quick. I relied more on swing. I guess I have slowed down a bit and concentrate more on consistency and keeping it simple.”

There may be a bit of modesty creeping in here, as sources close to the South African camp have observed that Dawson is in fact bowling quite sharply, at least by Over-50s standards.

Although he batted down the order for South Africa, Dawson is also a more than handy batsman, with a highest first-class score of 143. He is well-known for putting on an important partnership with Nicky Boje to help South Africa win its semifinal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

Over a decade of high-level play, Dawson played 98 first-class games, 161 List-A matches and even managed 20 T20 matches before calling it a day in 2007.

Dawson first heard about the 2020 Over-50s Cricket World Cup from the South African coordinator and 2020 tournament director Roger Moult, who encouraged Dawson to make himself available.

While he is relatively young (just turned 50) and fit, Dawson hasn’t played competitive cricket for 12 years. Like many international players, he stopped playing - pretty much cold turkey - upon his retirement from first-class cricket in 2007.

By contrast, one of the early Key Player Profiles in this series was on Australia’s Phillip Melville, a guy who didn’t reach first-class (let alone international) level, but has never stopped playing cricket and has continued to take wickets at a good level of club cricket for over 30 years. It will be fascinating to see how life-time club cricketers like Melville stack up against players like Dawson - a Test and ODI bowler who hasn’t played regular cricket for over a decade.

Dawson is enthusiastic about the standard of play at the Over-50s World Cup: “I’m expecting it to be real competitive from what I have heard. The interest among my cricketing mates has been fantastic and I’m extremely excited to be part of it.”

Although he recognises the competitive nature of the tournament, Dawson is also looking forward to the social element. “The idea of linking up with ex-team-mates and playing against ex-opposition is a wonderful motivation. I’m looking forward to the challenge, camaraderie, banter and the chance to catch up with old and new cricketing mates.”

Impact: As a swing bowler, Dawson is likely to still be able to trouble most batsmen, and his pace will be a bonus. He will be part of a well-rounded South African attack and his experience will be invaluable, especially against some of the stronger teams.

By Jim Morrison