Trevor Goddard — Knowing God and making Him known

[notice] Former South African cricket captain and later evangelist Trevor Goddard died last Friday (November 25 2016) after a long illness. David Melvill writes this tribute to the great all-rounder. [/notice]

trevor-goddard-1Trevor Goddard is arguably one of South Africa’s finest cricketers, but he would not wish to be known as such. Like Paul, he would gladly discard being famous for the sake of knowing Christ; he would “count it all as dung.” Or at least that was my experience with him when I asked Trevor to come and speak at our men’s prayer breakfast some five years ago.

Being a famous cricketer was of little or no importance to him compared to being saved. It was not the earthly recognition of man, but doing the will of God that was of importance – living a life worthy of his calling, and obeying His commands.

Trevor had had a good innings, on 25th November it was time to retire and go back home to glory. He spent his last days on his daughter, Lindy Smith’s farm in Fouriesburg (on the Lesotho border).

An intimate walk with the Lord
It is amazing the close and personal relationship he had built with the Lord. He and Lesley were married for 37 years, they were a team of prayer warriors. Their daily walk with the Lord was very intimate; they would talk to the Lord in “personal chats.” And yet, they would intercede and plead in the throne room for those who had not yet come to accept the claims of Jesus.

Trevor’s care was overwhelming, he wanted to know how you were doing in a genuine caring way, which meant he wanted to know all the details. What amazed me was how he would regularly ask me: “How is your son doing?” He fervently and faithfully prayed for him. I knew that the “prayers of a righteous man avails much.” I was therefore so grateful for his dedicated perseverance in interceding on his behalf. For this I cannot thank him enough. He made one feel so important and special. Oh what a joy to know him and call him my friend – how blessed I am.

A desire to see all men saved
There was no greater joy for Trevor to see his fellow cricketers come to know the saving grace of Jesus in their lives. He would make every effort to reach out and lovingly share the gospel as well as how his life was changed because he had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. How he would moan and groan if his fellow cricketers had gone to a lost eternity. For him having the peace of reassurance of salvation was important and the immense desire for others to come to know Him too. He longed for them to find that peace and not to be lost for eternity!

What made the name Trevor Goddard so special? Almost anywhere in cricketing circles, you could mention the name, it is a household name. People would be full of praise for the “gentleman” of cricket. He served the sport and his country with such grace and dignity. He knew he needed to be humble and exhibit an attitude of servanthood.

For him winning was important in this cricketing world, it counted a lot for him while playing cricket indeed. Despite the fact, he would be considered as an all-time great, he saw the bigger picture, the need to succeed not in this world, but in the world to come. His accomplishments were somewhat in vain, he understood well the word that says, “What shall it profit a man if he gain everything, yet lose his soul?”

His belief in forgiveness and retribution
It was my honour to get to know Trevor Goddard in East London in the early nineties. He invited me to look after his unit trust investment. I moved it from a top performing institution to the company I represented. It did not do well. He reminded me of the company he was with and how well it was still performing. I was embarrassed. He did not hold it against me. He was gracious, forgiving and more importantly, encouraging.

About a year ago he told me how he had been convicted of wanting to make right a wrong in his past – not just ask for forgiveness, but make restitution where he could. He said: “Recently I felt convicted about something that had happened in 1967, it was a test match against the Aussies at the Wanderers. I had achieved my best bowling figures of 6 for 53. (In those days there was no man of the match awards, or stumps as souvenirs) I took a towel from the Rand club (as my souvenir). I wrote a letter and explained what I had done and enclosed a cheque for R 150.” He received a phone call from the club to say they graciously accepted it. I marvelled at his desire to be at peace with all men, so that he could say he had made every effort to demonstrate the work of God’s grace in his life, and walk humbly before his God.

His cricketing feats
Trevor was arguably our best all-rounder, at least he was when he played. The journalist, Neil Manthorp, describes him as “One of the great but most seldom acknowledged all-rounders.” Trevor, represented South Africa in 41 Test matches between 1955 and 1970.

Trevor Goddard is congratulated by England’s captain, Mike Smith, for reaching his maiden Test century, South Africa v England, 4th Test, Johannesburg, 5th day, January 27, 1965.

Captaining South Africa in 13 of them over the 1963-64 season against Australia and NZ. He scored 2 516 test runs and with his swing bowling took 123 wickets at test level. He was the first South African at test level to achieve the “double” of scoring 2 000 runs and taking 100 wickets.

Trevor was born on 1st August 1931. He attended Durban High School (DHS), one of South Africa’s finest cricketing nurseries.

Jackie McGlew, his captain and opening batsman partner described Trevor as “a selector’s dream. He was the complete batsman – elegant and full of strokes and he was a wonderful accurate bowler and a master of flight and seam. He fielded mostly in the gully which is one of the most difficult positions on the cricket field.”

Donald Bradman described Goddard as “a completely reliable and honest player who could be depended upon before any season started to put up a sterling performance over a whole series”. In addition he said, “Goddard had “qualities of sincerity and integrity” and “enriched the game of cricket and set a fine example”.

The pinnacle of his career was the Grand Slam of beating the Aussies 4 – 0 in 1970. It was at the time when Graeme and Peter Pollock, Eddie Barlow, Mike Proctor and Barry Richards were all at their best.

He played in nine test series: two in England, one each in Australia and New Zealand and five at home. It was tough for his two children: Chris and Lindy, growing up without a dad, as the tours were for many weeks and travel by ship was time consuming. He realized he was depriving them by his long absence. To his credit, he chose to not make himself available for a tour to England.

A desire to “go and do likewise
On 10 Aug 1970 at the end of his cricket career whilst working at the University of Natal, he gave his life to the Lord. Over the next 18 years he had an effective and sought after ministry to youth. He conducted more than 35 missions to schools. Peter Pollock and he visited many a school, He said, “I would go to as many schools that would accept me.”

trevor-goddard-3“His story of tragedy, sorrows and new-found joys is recorded in his book Caught in the Deep. He shares the story of his first wife, Jean’s terminal illness and their 21 years of marriage and his call to ministry. As well as his new marriage to Lesley, and a near fatal car accident.

In this compelling story, anchored in human situations, Trevor shows how to triumph in the trials and the testings.”

He was later involved in a sport ministry in Stellenbosch. After that, he and Lesley would lead Bible studies and prayer groups in Somerset West; he also made himself available for counselling.

Tributes by friends
Malcolm Hedding, the former Director of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, on hearing this sad news said, “I have faithfully prayed for Trevor all through the years as we used to pray together years ago when he was a Minister with the Assemblies of God of Southern Africa. As far as cricket is concerned, I remember him playing in the 1960s for South Africa and he certainly was the best all-rounder that South Africa ever produced. He was an even better all-rounder for Jesus and we do thank God for his life and testimony. He is now finished batting and is in the great pavilion of God’s eternal care.

trevor-and-bruceMy friend, Bruce Hoatson, visiting Trevor on the farm shortly after his 85th birthday.
Bruce, reflecting on his life said, “He was an amazing man who loved His God first and foremost, he was always happy to share his faith. He had great respect for his fellow man; he fought the good fight and carried his bat right through the innings.”

Trevor was a gracious man, always good and kind. I have fond memories of this cricketing giant. He made a magnificent contribution to our country’s cricket, but mostly I will remember him for his contribution to his King and the Kingdom.

I thank my God for every good memory of him!
David Melvill

Memorial service will be held
When: Friday, 9 December 2016(14h00)
Where: Urban Voice Church (formerly known as Helderberg Christian Fellowship), corner of Schapenberg Road and Old Sir Lowry’s Pass Road, Somerset West.
Tributes, reflections or messages for Lesley can be e-mailed to Sue Dicke who will collate them in a book for Lesley to read later

“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.” ~ Charles Spurgeon


  1. I was lucky to meet a great Captain . Captain always captain .

  2. A wonderfull tribute Mr David Melvill to such a fine cricketer, person and man of God, lets hope his example will inspire others to do likewise….

    • So kind of you Boetie, Eric. You sure have inspired me by your fine example in rugby and in the Lord – you are my hero!

  3. A God-inspired tribute by you to Trevor, Dave. Sport is an awesome way to spread the Gospel. Christ used Trevor to touch the hearts of so many ‘lost’ people and served with such passion, yet he was so humble. Our country needs ‘heroes’ and warriors like him. This is the reason why I am still involved with sport, because young people (sportsmen/women) need Christ in their lives.
    Thank you again for sharing this inspiring tribute of this Godly man. He has completed his God-given purpose on this planet. Blessings.

    • Wow Beau, that is such a special comment! You are in the same style and mould as Trevor – gracious and humble! Long may you contend as a mentor to many young sport’s heroes. and pave the way for them to come to know Jesus!

  4. My blog story ‘Farewell Captain Decent’ is my tribute to him.
    A great human being has departed the arena on 85. It was a pleasure and privilege to have known him.
    Deepest sympathies to Lesley and family

    John & Georgie

  5. He eTrevor came to Assembly of God in Costantia and my wife dragged me along.Thought I would hear about some cricket stories. This gentle man spoke about Jesus and his love of the Lord.
    At the end of the service our Pastor said Trevor was available to talk to if anybody wanted to. I went into a back room where he was waiting and we started talking–no pushiness, just common sense and when he asked me if my life was in order—of course it was I thought. He just looked at me and I said –No it’s not!
    Thank you Lord for bringing someone like Trevor into my life to lead me to to you..