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That Christmas lunch and the quick stuff!

Updated on: 21 June,2024 07:38 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Clayton Murzello | clayton@mid-day.com

Former South Africa all-rounder Brian McMillan remembers David Johnson from the Durban Test of 1996-97 when he was trapped leg before; ex-India pacer passes away at 52 in Bangalore home

That Christmas lunch and the quick stuff!

Former India pacer David Johnson

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David Johnson’s most famous Test wicket was Michael Slater in the second innings of the inaugural Border-Gavaskar Test match at New Delhi in 1996. The opener (0) edged a wide one to Mohammed Azharuddin at first slip for Johnson to claim the first of 10 Australian wickets to fall in their seven-wicket loss. Later that year, Johnson sent back Herschelle Gibbs (0) and Brian McMillan (34) in the Durban Test of the 1996-97 series. McMillan’s was a big wicket because he was doing a repair job and Sachin Tendulkar’s India knew the kind of damage he could inflict. Whether Hansie Cronje’s South Africa were truly rattled only they would know, but Johnson’s death did rattle the world on Thursday.


Fatal fall


Johnson, according to a PTI report, fell off the balcony of his fourth floor apartment in Bangalore on Thursday morning. McMillan, who was trapped leg before by Johnson in that December 26-30 Kingsmead Test, was greatly saddened to learn about Johnson’s death at 52. The burly South African all-rounder didn’t quite remember the dismissal but recalled Johnson being “as quick as anyone” in Durban.


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South Africa’s Brian McMillan
South Africa’s Brian McMillan

He also did not forget to remember Johnson attending a Christmas lunch and mingling with his South African team in Durban. “He was pretty quiet—not like ‘Muscles’ Venkatapathy Raju and the rest of the clan. He was very polite and humble. I knew he is a Christian and it was wonderful to have him at our Christmas lunch. I didn’t realise that there could be Christians in India as well, so it was an eye opener for me,” McMillan, 60, told mid-day from Cape Town. McMillan was gutted to hear that Johnson leaves behind his wife and two kids. “Fifty-two is far too young to move on,” he remarked.

‘No one heard his cries’

News reports said the police were investigating if Johnson decided his own fate. “I don’t know what the stress and strains were. Maybe, it was a money thing. This is terrible news. It’s sad that no one heard his cries—as simple as that. Meanwhile, Sandeep Patil, who accompanied Johnson on two ODI tours with the Indian team (Sri Lanka and Canada in 1996), remembered Johnson as a “bubbly character, who had fire in his bowling, but didn’t get a chance to play [on those tours].”

Johnson claimed 125 wickets in 39 first-class games. Sachin Tendulkar, his captain in both his Tests, said on X: “Deeply saddened by the passing of my former teammate, David Johnson. He was full of life and never gave up on the field. My thoughts are with his friends and family.”

X talk

Venkatesh Prasad@venkateshprasad: Shocked and sad to hear about the passing away of David Johnson. Heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. Om Shanti.

Anil Kumble@anilkumble1074: Saddened to hear the passing of my cricketing colleague David Johnson. Heartfelt condolences to his family. Gone too soon ‘Benny’.

Gautam Gambhir@GautamGambhir: Saddened by the passing away of David Johnson. May god give strength to his family and loved ones.

Jay Shah, BCCI secretary@JayShah: Deepest condolences to family and friends of our former Indian fast bowler David Johnson. His contributions to the game will always be remembered.

Virender Sehwag@virendersehwag: Very sad to hear about David Johnson’s passing. Condolences to his family. 

Mayank Agarwal@mayankcricket: Anguished by the passing away of David Johnson, who contributed greatly to Karnataka cricket. May God give strength to his family and loved ones. Om Shanti.

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