- Trevor Quirk has paid tribute to his ”best mate” Robin Jackman.
- One of the great voices of South African cricket, Jackman died in Cape Town on Christmas Day.
- Quirk confirmed that Jackman’s death was not related to the cancer scare that ended his broadcasting career in 2012.
When Robin Jackman died at the age of 75 in his Cape Town home at 15:30 on Christmas Day, his wife Yvonne did not want to immediately let people know the awful news.
”She didn’t want it to be put out there … she didn’t want to spoil peoples’ Christmas and that’s typical of her,” Trevor Quirk, one of Jackman’s best friends, told Sport24 on Boxing Day.
That was, of course, not possible given Jackman’s stature and popularity, and eventually Quirk was tasked with informing those close to former England, Surrey, Rhodesia and Western Province bowler that the news was in fact true and that one of the game’s great commentators was no more.
Quirk, himself one of the most recognisable broadcast voices of South African cricket when the Proteas returned from isolation in the early 1990s, is devastated.
”We first met when he was playing Currie Cup cricket for Rhodesia in the 1970s. He was playing for Surrey and in their winter he used to come out and play for Rhodesia. I was playing for Northern Transvaal at the time and that’s where our paths first crossed,” he remembers.
It is a friendship that Quirk says lasted for something in the region of 45 years and, choking up, he calls Jackman his ”best mate”.
When head of the sport television division at the SABC in the late-1980s, it was Quirk who first convinced Jackman to try his hand at television commentary.
”He had dabbled a little bit on Test Match Special radio commentary in England, but the fact that he came to live permanently in South Africa and he married a South African (Yvonne) after his stint as a coach … that’s where I got him involved,” Quirk remembers.
”He just took off as a broadcaster so we ended up travelling the world broadcasting together in every single country you can think of that plays cricket.
”That’s where our friendship became strongly cemented.”
As recently as November this year, Quirk was the master of ceremonies at Jackman’s 50-year wedding anniversary with his wife, Yvonne.
”He met her when he came out to South Africa in between playing for Surrey. He loved South Africa so he came whenever there was an opportunity and then she went to England and they got married there. She then went with him to Rhodesia,” says Quirk.
In 2012, Jackman was diagnosed with a throat cancer that brought the curtain down on his broadcasting career. By that stage, however, he had already cemented his reputation as one of the greats of the industry.
”He was a wonderful broadcaster and an astute mind of cricket. He was fanatical about the game and just had a lovely relaxed, pleasing style. Everybody loved him. The players trusted him and liked him and that’s why he was so good,” adds Quirk.
To the greater cricket community, a servant of the game has been lost.
Quirk, though, has lost a life-long companion.
”We were just great mates. We played golf together and indulged in long lunches together … a lot of them. We both belonged to the same clubs and we were both very gregarious people so we had a lot of fun together,” he says.
”He was just such a friendly person. He loved a few beers with the boys and was always great fun in company. He was mad about sport, not just cricket. He and I were great Tottenham Hotspur fans.
”He was an honest man and just a lovely human being.”
Last year, Jackman suffered a serious heart attack while he was in a remote part of the Eastern Cape. It took half a day for him to finally be booked into an East London hospital, but he pulled through and had a pacemaker inserted.
His death, Quirk reveals, had nothing to do with the cancer diagnosis of 2012.
”I was sort of prepared for it in many ways,” Quirk says.
”I spoke to his wife, Yvonne, yesterday. I’ve been in touch with her everyday and yesterday she phoned me to say that he had a very bad night. She called in the doctor and he came at 11:00 yesterday morning and he didn’t think Jackers was going to make it through the night … and he didn’t.
”He’s had this pulmonary fibrosis and he’d been on oxygen for the last couple of weeks and it just got worse and worse.
”It just caught up with him in the end.”
Since the news broke on Friday evening, tributes have been streaming in from all corners of the cricket community.
The ICC called him ”legendary”, and Jackman’s contribution to this great game will certainly not be forgotten by any South African who has followed it closely over the years.
For others, though, the loss goes far deeper than cricket.
”It’s devastating to lose your best friend,” says Quirk.