Cuan McCarthy takes his place in South Africa cricket lore. In his day, Cuan McCarthy formed one of the trios of Macs from Maritzburg in becoming a force in South Africa cricket from 1948. Cuan McCarthy was recognized as one of the World’s fastest bowlers of his time, written by Dennis Done.
And justifiably so, when Cuan McCarthy died in Johannesburg at the age of 71 in 2000 year. He was on the song; as he was quick and deadly, to say the least. The other two Macs were Roy McLean, who was those days’ lives at Mount Edgecombe, and the late Jackie McGlew.
Cuan McCarthy was an extremely quick, wrist type of fast bowler, recalled McLean. I would rate him just as quick as Allan Donald. The only difference was that in our day, bowlers were allowed to bowl off the back foot, which made the ball come through a lot quicker. Because of that, I think Cuan was unlucky not to take more wickets and many catches were dropped in the slips due to his pace.
McLean said that he and the other Macs were friends from the time they went to Merchiston school together in Pietermaritzburg. When we grew up and started playing league cricket, there were a lot of friendly rivalries because Jackie and Cuan played for Collegians and I turned out for Zingari.
It was terribly sad to hear that he’s gone now, touch wood. Cuan McCarthy played 15 Tests Matches for South Africa. Out of the 10 against England and five against Australia. His best figure was 6 for 43 in one of the most exciting Test matches ever played in South Africa. That was the famous last ball of the last over the match, Kingsmead. When Cliff Glad, win’s deliberate leg bye enabled England to beat South Africa by two wickets.
In his 15 Tests matches, Cuan McCarthy claimed 36 wickets, moderate by today’s standards. Because Test match appearances were somewhat limited by comparison. But Cuan, by his own admission, would hardly have considered himself a potential all-rounder.
With the bat, he made 28 runs in 24 appearances at the wicket, with a top score of five. But as a bowler, he was a deadly bowler in the extreme. Indeed, when first called up to Test duty as 19 years old. He was described as an exciting new find who bowled at a tremendous pace.
And in his all too brief international career. Cuan McCarthy lived up to expectations as a man who gave his all in games from club level through to the world stage. Cricket is for sure saddened by his loss. But his deeds will surely not be forgotten. As they take their place among those of the legendary figures of South Africa, great men of the game down the years.