Cricket South Africa (CSA) has heard with great sadness of the passing of Ismail ‘Baboo’ Ebrahim in Durban at the age of 73.
Baboo was one of the outstanding South African spin bowlers of the 1960s and 1970s who would undoubtedly have played as many Test matches for his country as the 48 first-class games to which he was limited. In those matches he took 179 wickets at an average of 21.33 with an economy rate of 2.12 including 8 five-wicket hauls and 2 ten-wicket hauls.
The left-arm spinner only had one opportunity on the international stage when he played for a SA Invitation XI against the International Wanderers at Kingsmead in 1976. At the age of 29 he was in his prime and took a match-winning 6/66 in the second innings, his victims including international captains, Greg Chappell of Australia and Mike Denness of England. It was a clear indication of what he could have achieved on grounds around the world at the highest level had he been given the opportunity. He was a master of flight and spin and had a good arm ball to back it up.
His ability to perform at this level had become apparent much earlier when he went to watch the Australians at practice before their Test match against South Africa in 1970. He persuaded the Australians to let him bowl to them and made an immediate impression, bowling experienced Test batsman Ian Redpath and impressing the likes of Ian Chappell and Ashley Mallett, the latter being Australia’s leading spinner of the 1970s.
He had one season for Radcliffe in the Lancashire Central League when he took 62 wickets at 14.62 apiece.
Baboo finally got his chance to represent his country in Masters events in one of which he dismissed both Sir Vivian Richards and Gordon Greenidge.
“Baboo Ebrahim was one of the countless number of outstanding cricketers who was denied the opportunity to display his talents to the world and live his cricketing dreams,” commented CSA Acting Chief Executive, Dr. Jacques Faul.
“On behalf of the CSA Family I extend our deepest sympathy to his family, friends and cricketing colleagues.”