Con de Lange, who has died from a brain tumour aged 38, was a highly accomplished South African-born cricket professional and coach who played first class cricket in his native country and county cricket for Northamptonshire before representing Scotland internationally with distinction in over 20 matches. His death has caused a profound sense of loss among the cricket community here and elsewhere.
A talented all rounder he was a middle order batsman, a slow left arm spin bowler and an excellent fielder. In his first class career he scored nearly 3,000 runs at an average rate of 23, including one century and 13 half centuries while as bowler he took 183 wickets at an average of 38.
He was vice captain of the Scottish team at the Desert T20 [20 overs] tournament in the UAE in January 2017 when the Scots reached the semi final with him notching six wickets. One report credited him as being “the architect of Scottish bowling success in their unbeaten run during the league stages” while the quality of his play was reflected in his being named 12th man in a ‘team of the tournament’ selected afterwards. Another highlight was playing in the first Scottish team to record a win in an ODI against an ICC Full Member status country, Zimbabwe, in June 2017 when he claimed five wickets for 60 runs. Later he was quoted, “To win is a fantastic feeling. That’s what you grow up as a kid dreaming towards, beating Test nations.”
Between 2003 and 2008 he played for Paisley’s Ferguslie club being a member of their Scottish Cup-winning team of 2008 when they defeated Penicuik. From about 2013 onwards he was player/coach with the Clydesdale club with whom in 2016 he also won the Scottish Cup. On that occasion they defeated Arbroath United with de Lange recording an innings of 51 and three wickets for 38. As a successful coach, he held the highest qualification from the England and Wales Cricket Board, Level 4, and put his skills to good use for the benefit of his club and their juniors as well as the West Warriors juniors.
Con de Wet de Lange was born at Bellville, Cape Province and began playing cricket as a youngster at school. His ability was recognised with selection for South African Schools, the U19 national team at Test and ODI level and in 2002/3 for South Africa ‘A’. He also played first class cricket for Boland, Western Province, Cape Cobras, the Eagles, Free State and the Knights for about ten seasons from the late 1990s onwards during which time he played with and against several world class players. During their winter, like other southern hemisphere players, he came over here to play, initially for East Lancashire in the Lancashire League in 2002.
This was a path well trodden by some famous names as aspiring youngsters trying to gain entry to the English county game. His predecessors as professional at the Blackburn club included Australian Test players Bob Cowper, Neil Hawke and captain Allan Border.
His next port of call was Ferguslie where he rendered excellent service and while there met a local girl, Claire, daughter of a club official. The couple married and had two children, Daisy and Rory, during a happy and fulfilling marriage spent mostly in Paisley, cruelly cut short as a result of Mr. de Lange’s brain tumour, which was diagnosed in early 2018. Since then the cricket community has rallied round to collect significant sums for charity.
Spells in South Africa and at Blackpool followed before he joined Northamptonshire in English county cricket for two seasons in 2012. In his initial season there, he made 22 appearances in the first team across all competitions and was highly respected, as evidenced by their message of condolence and players donning black armbands last weekend, as also occurred at a recent Cape Cobras game and many other venues. While playing he undertook a degree in business administration and graduated from the University in South Africa in 2014.
At Clydesdale he made a huge impact and was at the core of many of its activities, both on and off the pitch. In Scottish cricket in general he also made an enormous contribution, marking his international debut in June 2015 in an ICC game against Afghanistan at Stirling with three wickets for 21 before going on to appear in 13 ODIs and eight T20 internationals, the final one in November 2017 in a ODI against Papua New Guinea.
The many tributes received following his death are eloquent of his popularity and standing in the cricket world, here and beyond. Those included former Springbok captain Jacques Kallis, Cricket Scotland, Northants captain Alex Wakeley – “One of the greatest blokes you will ever meet”, and Allan Donald, South Africa’s greatest fast bowler – “Gutted to hear Con de Lange passed away. What a warrior he was”.
Considered a very focused and disciplined cricketer who played hard but always with respect for teammates and opponents, he was a man of integrity and generous with his time. His outwardly somewhat formal manner masked a warm hearted individual with an excellent sense of humour for whom his family came first. He is survived by his wife and children.