The bespectacled Barlow was both a popular and easily recognisable figure in South African cricket from the 1960s onwards – a prodigious run-maker and frequent wicket-taker, he was one of the leading all-rounders on the world stage in the 1960s. Louis Duffus said Barlow "did more than anyone else to break down the timid defensive tactics which for so many years kept South Africa a second-rate cricket country".
He was nicknamed "Bunter" because of his supposed resemblance to Billy Bunter. A stand at Newlands Cricket Ground was to have been named after Barlow but due to opposition from some of the voting clubs it has been "put on hold".
Barlow played cricket for the South African Schools XI and South African Universities. He made his first-class debut for Transvaal B against Griqualand West in 1959–60, scoring 72 batting at number four and not bowling.
He began bowling in first-class matches in 1960–61 when he was promoted to the main Transvaal side. He hit his first century that season, 110 not out against North-Eastern Transvaal in the final match of the season, a match in which he also took five wickets.
He toured England with the young Fezelas team in 1961; he was a last-minute replacement for David Pithey, who had had to withdraw. Opening the batting for the first time, Barlow hit 36, 22 and 110 in his two first-class matches.
Barlow played 30 Tests for South Africa, never missing a match between his debut in the First Test against New Zealand in 1961–62 and South Africa's isolation after the series against Australia in 1969–70. In 1963–64 he became the first South African player to make a century in his first Test match against Australia. He scored 603 runs in the series including a double century at Adelaide.
During England's 1964–65 tour of South Africa, Barlow became embroiled in controversy in the third Test at Newlands after he survived a bat-pad chance when England bowler Fred Titmus thought he had had Barlow caught by Peter Parfitt in the gully. It was already an ill-tempered series, and when Barlow went on to complete his hundred it was little recognised by the England players. Instead, when Tony Pithey reached his half-century shortly afterwards, the England players went overboard in their congratulations to him, seemingly to make a point about Barlow's behavior. The local South African papers attacked England for this, and later in the same match, English batsman Ken Barrington caused a greater furor when he walked despite not being given out by the same umpire that had not given Barlow out.
In addition to his 30 official Tests, Barlow also played in 5 matches for the Rest of the World side that toured England in 1970 that were originally designated as Test matches, though they were later stripped of Test status. In the fourth of these "Tests" at Headingley he achieved what was then the 17th hat-trick; after a further dot ball, Barlow took another wicket to make it four wickets in five balls. Barlow finished with first-innings figures of 7 for 64, which would have been his best Test figures, and match figures of 12 for 142, which would have been his only 10-wicket Test match haul.
Barlow's last official Test series was South Africa's 4–0 whitewashing of Australia in 1969–70. He was selected for the tours of England in 1970 and Australia in 1971–72, but both tours were cancelled in the face of anti-apartheid protests.
In 1976 Barlow went to Derbyshire as the overseas professional and took over the captaincy half way through his first season. His methods were revolutionary for the times but he took the team to a final in the Benson & Hedges Cup at Lord's in the 1978 season.
World Series CricketEdit
When Kerry Packer began his World Series Cricket tournament in 1977–78, it gave a new avenue for the leading South African cricketers to play international cricket. Barlow was signed up for both the 1977–78 and 1978–79 seasons in which the tournament ran, and captained the WSC Cavaliers side which played in many non-SuperTest matches.
After his retirement, Barlow took up a post as Director of the South African Sports Office in London and afterwards he became a cricket coach. He was appointed coach at Gloucestershire. He coached Orange Free State and then Transvaal. He then became the first coach of the newly formed Super Juice Academy which was based in the Western Cape and was a feeder for Western Province and Boland cricket.
He was then invited to become the national coach of Bangladesh in 1999 and helped put together the plans that enabled the country to achieve official Test status the following year.