Derrick John “Jackie” McGlew (11 March 1929 8 June 1998) was a cricketer who played for Natal and South Africa. He was educated at Merchiston Preparatory School and Maritzburg College, where he was Head Dayboy Prefect and captain of both cricket and rugby in 1948.
An opening batsman with fabled powers of adhesion, suiting his name, McGlew set records in the 1950s for slow scoring. But though his tenacity brought criticism – even from Wisden he was the linchpin around which the strong South African cricket team of the 1950s was built.
McGlew was picked for the 1951 tour to England on the strength of a century in a 12-a-side match, and was not a success in his two Test matches. But within 18 months, he was both a fixture in the Test side and vice-captain as South Africa held the strong Australians to a series draw in 1952-53. And in the same season he hit what was then South Africa’s highest Test innings, an undefeated 255, against New Zealand at Wellington.
McGlew was the South Africans’ most successful batsman on his second tour of England in 1955, scoring centuries at Old Trafford and Headingley. He captained the side in two Tests because of injury to the tour captain, Jack Cheetham. South Africa won both matches, and Cheetham wanted McGlew to remain as captain for the Fifth Test even though Cheetham was fit, but he was over-ruled by the other members of the selection committee. In 1956, for his efforts on the tour, McGlew was named as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year with Wisden contrasting the dourness of his batting with the liveliness of his fielding in the covers.
Dourness reached new levels in 1957-58 in the home Test series against Australia: at Durban, McGlew took 313 minutes to reach 50, and the 545 minutes he took to get to 100 was the world record for the slowest century in first-class cricket until declining over-rates in the 1970s took all such timed records away. In all, he batted 575 minutes for 105, but South Africa failed to win because there was not enough time left to bowl Australia out twice. Wisden praised the innings as a feat of concentration and endurance but added: “It is doubtful whether South Africa benefited by it.” McGlew’s third tour of England in 1960 saw him captain the side. He had a poor Test series, and the tour was blighted by controversy over the bowling action of the South African fast bowler, Geoff Griffin, who was no-balled for throwing at Lord’s. McGlew retired from Test cricket after the 1961-62 series against New Zealand, in which he scored his seventh and final Test century. In all, he captained South Africa in 13 Tests, winning four and losing five. He scored 2,440 Test runs at an average of more than 42.
A useful before Lunch and Afternoon Tea bowler. he took no Test wickets with his leg breaks, but did reap a hat-trick for Natal against Transvaal in 1963-64, with the wickets spread over two innings. His best bowling figures in a single innings were only two wickets for four runs.
Batting at number eight or nine, he played some useful innings while leading Natal to victory in the Currie Cup in 1966-67, then retired from first-class cricket.
An excellent tactical captain, he was warmhearted and devoted to the game. He wrote the books Cricket Crisis (about the 1964-65 series against England) and Six for Glory (about the 1966-67 series against Australia).
In retirement, he briefly flirted with pro-apartheid politics, at one point standing as a candidate for the ruling National Party, before moving into business. In 1991-92, when post-apartheid South Africa was re-admitted to world cricket, he was picked as manager of the first visit by a South African team to the West Indies, the Under-19 tour.