Allan Anthony Donald was born on 20 October 1966 in South Africa, is a former South African cricketer and one of their most successful pace bowlers.
In his prime, he was one of the best fast bowlers ever seen in Test cricket, reaching the top of the ICC Test rankings in 1998 and peaked with a top ICC ranking of 895 points the next year, the 25th best ranking ever. In ODIs, he reached 794 points in 1998, second place to his teammate Shaun Pollock, the 28th best ranking ever. In the early 1990s, he was arguably the only world-class bowler in the South African team, until the emergence of Pollock, with whom he made a healthy new-ball partnership from the 1996/1997 tour of India until his retirement in 2002.
He made his Test debut on 18 April 1992 in South Africa’s first test since their return to world sport after the abolition of apartheid. South Africa lost to the West Indies in Barbados by 52 runs, but Donald took 2-67 and 4-77, including the prized wicket of Brian Lara.
Known as ‘White Lightning’, he is remembered as a fearsome fast bowler, scowling and aggressive, with a circular white area of zinc cream across his cheeks and nose. When he retired, he was South Africa’s record wicket-taker with 330 Test wickets at an average of 22.25, and claimed 272 One Day International wickets at an average of 21.78. Both of these records have now been overtaken by Shaun Pollock.
South Africa’s first game in the 1992 Cricket World Cup was against Australia. From his first ball, Donald got a noticeable edge off Geoff Marsh to the keeper, but the umpire Brian Aldridge didn’t give the decision.
In 1997 he came under intense scrutiny from the international cricket media after he was alleged to have used racially abusive language against India’s Rahul Dravid in the finals of a one-day series. Allan Donald mentioned this incident in his autobiography, White Lightning:
“in the middle of a noisy, partisan atmosphere, with the final in the balance, …I got involved in an incident that has since caused me a lot of grief, leading to accusations that I am a racist.
“I was really pumped by the time Tendulkar and Dravid came together, but they soon got after me. Tendulkar pulled me for a flat six over midwicket, a wonderful shot…but when Dravid smashed me for six and four, I got carried away in typical fast bowler’s fashion. I walked right up to him, face to face, and snarled, ‘This isn’t such a fucking easy game’ and the TV cameras had me in close-up, with everyone lip-reading my words. Dravid’s eyes lit up when he saw me standing so close, and the Durban crowd absolutely loved it.”
Donald had a now famous duel with the English batsman Michael Atherton during the Trent Bridge Test Match of 1998. This duel has since gone down as one of the most electrifying and intense periods of Test match cricket in history.
In what is often referred to as “the greatest one-day match in cricket”, between South Africa and Australia, Donald was the last batsmen on the South African team, and is often held responsible for their exit from the tournament. Although the match technically ended in a tie, South Africa had previously lost to Australia in the Super-Six phase, and needed to win outright to progress to the final.
With Australia batting first, Donald and Pollock were the most successful bowlers in the South African team, and restricted Australia to 213, Donald taking 4-32, and Pollock 5-36. Donald picked up the wicket of Ponting with his first ball, in the 14th over, and another wicket with the last ball of the same over, Darren Lehmann caught whilst trying to deal with a bouncer. In the penultimate over, Donald clean-bowled Paul Reiffel and Damien Fleming, with Australia slipping from 207-6 to 213 all out.
South Africa’s reply began well, going to 48-0 off 12 overs. The introduction of Shane Warne had immediate effect, as South Africa slipped to 61-4, Warne taking 3 wickets. Kallis and Rhodes took the score to 145-4, before both fell in the space of a few overs. At 183-6 with 4 overs remaining, chasing 214 to win, South Africa appeared to be slightly on top. However, good bowling and fielding restricted South Africa, and with the run-out of Steve Elworthy, they needed to score 16 off the last 8 balls to win without losing a wicket, with Lance Klusener and Allan Donald at the crease. Klusener hit McGrath in the air towards Paul Reiffel on the boundary, who unluckily parried it for 6, and ran a single on the last ball to keep the strike for the final over.
Klusener hit Damien Fleming for consecutive fours off the first two balls of the last over. With the scores level and 4 balls to go, it appeared South Africa would be victorious, needing only a single for victory. Klusener mis-hit the next ball to Lehmann at mid-on, and Donald, who had “backed-up” down the crease, narrowly escaped being run-out as he turned to go back. The next ball, Klusener hit the ball straight down the wicket and set off immediately, probably assuming Donald would be backing up. Instead, Donald was watching the ball, and missed the call to run. Both batsmen were at the bowler’s end before Donald started running, having dropped his bat. The ball was thrown to the bowler, then to Gilchrist, who broke the stumps at the other end, with Donald only halfway down the pitch.
In English county cricket, Donald enjoyed a long and highly successful career with Warwickshire. He also played a single match for Worcestershire in 2002. Having retired from playing, he now commentates for South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) in their coverage of South Africa’s home Tests, alongside former teammate Daryll Cullinan. In May 2007, Allan Donald was appointed as a temporary bowling consultant for the England cricket team. His involvement impressed many, and was praised by several players. Donald’s original brief contract was extended until September 2007. Donald decided not to continue with his coaching role at the end of September 2007 citing the strain of touring and his wish to be with his family. Donald was a coach at Warwickshire County Cricket Club, and in partnership with fellow coach Ashley Giles helped the county to win the Second Division of the County Championship in 2008.
Allan Donald coached the reigning domestic champions, Mountaineers, (a franchise team) in Zimbabwe and is the bowling coach for the New Zealand cricket team for the ODI series against Pakistan and the 2011 Cricket World Cup. New Zealand team beat South Africa in the quarter final match of the world cup.