Rare is the South African cricket fan unfamiliar with the gravelly tones of SuperSport commentator ROBIN JACKMAN. ‘Jackers’ has expounded on the game for well over 30 years, his easy-on-the-ear, anecdotal style making him a national institution. Born in India and educated in the UK, he initially worked as a horticulturalist until being signed up by Surrey County Cricket Club. As a seam bowler, he went on to represent England in 15 one-day internationals and four test matches. Robin, once described by the legendary Ian Botham as ‘the life and soul of the party’, has been married for more than 45 years to Yvonne, a nursing sister from Grahamstown, and they have lived mainly in Cape Town. Currently based in Newlands, they have two daughters and two grandchildren. Here, Robin speaks to KATY MACDONALD about his bad habits and his journey with cancer
Photo: Tonya Hester

Most irritating habit in self? Biting my nails and putting off until tomorrow what should be done today

Most irritating habit in others? Inconsiderate driving

Cappuccino/rooibos? Cappuccino

Ultimate comfort food? Macaroni cheese

What’s in my fridge right now is… whatever my wife put there!

Why cricket? Because I wasn’t very good at golf

Best cricketing memory? Every time I was given the opportunity to play

Best sporting moment and why? My selection for England for a test match in 1981 because it meant I’d achieved the ultimate goal I set myself when I started out

Worst sporting moment and why? Every time I dropped a catch, because I was letting the team down

Hardest thing you ever had to do and how you coped with it? I worked for a short time after my retirement from cricket in a small production company that didn’t work out, then found myself helping clients choose their carpeting and décor at a retirement village. I was out of my comfort zone for the first time in my life and didn’t cope with it very well!

Cape Town and you? I’ve loved it since I first came here. There are so many things to do in one day, and the mountain never looks the same

Best international all-rounders ever? I would say Sir Garfield Sobers and Jacques Kallis. I was privileged to play against one and watch the whole career of the other. Two great cricketers, two humble characters

You’ve been involved with Mercy Ships in the past and now with Grace Vision. How did that come about? Leigh, my youngest daughter, joined Mercy Ships (  as a volunteer several years ago. I involved myself assisting with charity events and fundraising because I was simply blown away by the work they do. Highly skilled surgeons and doctors have worked on Mercy Ships for decades without any payment whatsoever, in fact they have to pay to work on the ship!

More recently, I’ve turned my focus to Grace Vision ( It’s another inspirational organisation which offers free specialist services to those in need, this time specialising in eye care.

One thing not a lot of people know about Robin Jackman is…he’s doing his best to be a Christ follower

Why do you believe in God? Because somebody quite extraordinary created the universe

How did this belief come about? It’s been a slow process but, nevertheless, a process. I remained reluctant until three years ago when a series of circumstances led to an early diagnosis of cancer of the vocal chords that was nothing other than miraculous

Tell us about it It was life-changing. Laura Russell, the daughter of my friend Malcolm, is a voice therapist who happens to enjoy cricket. She also happened to be on maternity leave with time to listen to a match. She’d just completed a course with her students at UCT on how to pick up changes in people’s voices. Mine was a voice she knew well, she didn’t like the way it sounded, and via her father she asked me to have my throat looked at

So the cancer was caught at stage one and dealt with after two surgeries (it grew back in three weeks the first time!) and seven weeks of radiation. It was an emotional rollercoaster but I felt so much at peace with the world that I knew I was in God’s hands, that the invitation to accept Him was out there and that it was time I accepted it!

Coolest thing about God? The peace and comfort He brings

How do you connect to God? Privately and at my church. I also enjoy monthly meetings with other believers

Best piece of advice you’ve been given? ‘Please have someone look down your throat, I can hear a change in your voice’ (Laura Russell)

Any advice for others? Don’t put off until tomorrow what should be done today

Guilty pleasure? Dark chocolate

I really should stop… swearing!

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