Johannesburg: South African Norman Gordon, who was the oldest former Test cricketer, died yesterday aged 103 in Johannesburg.

Late Norman Gordon
Late Norman Gordon  

"Norman died peacefully this morning in the flat where he lived for 60 years," friend and former South Africa Test skipper Ali Bacher told reporters.

He played in the famous 'timeless' 1939 Durban Test, which lasted 10 days before being drawn because England had to catch a boat home.

England were 42 runs short of victory when play was abandoned in a Test where Gordon bowled 92.2 eight-ball overs.

That marathon spell remains a record for balls bowled by a fast bowler in a Test. Gordon played only five Tests — all against England during the 1938-1939 season — because his career coincided with World War II.

"Norman lived a full life. His passions were cricket and golf and always felt privileged and appreciative of the wonderful people he met," said Bacher.

A highlight for then 99-year-old-Gordon was a surprise visit by West Indies cricket legend Brian Lara. Thrilled Gordon said at the time: "I was so happy to meet him and could not believe what a modest person he was."

Another special moment was a function to celebrate his 100th birthday with ex-South African stars Peter and Shaun Pollock, Mike Procter, Fanie de Villiers and Makhaya Ntini forming a guard-of-honour.

Larger than life, Gordon practised accountancy part-time until 94 and played golf until 96 when failing eyesight forced him to quit.