Rodney Ontong was a gifted all-rounder, who led Glamorgan between 1984 and 1986, and had it not been for an horrific car crash which ended his professional career, Ontong might have won Test honours with England as a combative batsman and astute off-spinner.
The South African-born cricketer had initially come over to the United Kingdom in the early 1970`s to have football trials with Chelsea FC. He subsequently joined the MCC groundstaff along with other talented young cricketers such as Ian Botham, and was recommended to Glamorgan by the MCC’s Head Coach Len Muncer.
Rodney duly secured a contract with the Welsh county and made his first-class debut against the 1975 Australians at Swansea. He then spent a couple of years qualifying as an English player, before winning a regular place in the side in 1977 as a brisk medium pace bowler and stylish middle order batsman. His all-round skills proved invaluable to the Welsh county, as they enjoyed their best ever season in one-day cricket in reaching the Gillette Cup final.
During the early 1980`s, Rodney moved up the batting order to the number three berth, and in 1983 he also changed bowling styles from pace to spin. He proved to be a big spinner of the ball, and claimed 74 wickets in 1984, followed by 64 victims in 1985. During the 1985 season, Rodney also produced one of the best ever all-round performances for Glamorgan, in scoring 130 and returning figures of 13/106 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
Midway through the 1984 season Rodney had taken over the Glamorgan captaincy and following his outstanding returns, his name was mentioned in high circles as a potential England all-rounder. This was sadly not to be as his fine county career came to an abrupt end in August 1988 when he badly injured his knee in a motorway accident en route from Essex to Northamptonshire.
ONTONG, Rodney Craig
Born – Johannesburg, South Africa, 9th September 1955.
Best performances for Glamorgan:
In first-class cricket – 204* v Middlesex at Swansea, 1984; 8/67 v Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, 1985.
In List A cricket – 100 v Northamptonshire at Abergavenny, 1982; 5/30 v Somerset at Taunton, 1985.