Famed New Zealand cricketer John Reid is being remembered as one of the world’s best all-rounders following news of his death at age 92.
As the sporting world remembered Reid’s contribution to cricket, most news coverage centred around his captaining of the national team to its first test win over the West Indies in Auckland in 1956, breaking a winless streak of 26 years for the New Zealand team.
Less publicised was the fact that during the same tour, he captained North Otago in its game against a nearly full-strength West Indies side featuring one of the greatest ever cricketers Sobers.
The game was played at the Waitaki Boys’ High School back field that now lies under the Pacific Ocean, but was regarded as one of the finest pitches in the country at the time.
In the one-innings game, Reid scored 28 of North Otago’s 108 runs. He failed to take a wicket as the West Indies scored 282 for seven, although he bowled 14 overs while conceding only 18 runs.
Reid arrived in Oamaru in 1956 to take up a job as a sales representative for British Petroleum. He stayed on for three seasons before returning to Wellington.
He linked up with the Oamaru Cricket Club, playing for the club while not on representative duties.
Oamaru Cricket Club life member Bill Cubitt was a new member of the senior team when Reid joined and remembered him as a “tremendous all-rounder”.
“He was a big-hitter; he would have gone well in today’s game,” Cubitt said.
“One shot he played off the back foot and it went into the paddock next to the field.”
Cubitt remembered a large crowd turning up to watch Reid play one week, but “Oamaru declared at 300 for two and he never got a bat”.
He also had fond memories of training with Reid. One week, he was looking to get some batting practice in, so Cubitt spent two hours bowling to him in the nets.
“It’s the biggest workout I’ve ever had.”
Reid was also a keen squash player and Cubitt’s uncle Bill Bee regularly played against him in Oamaru.
Born in Auckland, and educated at Hutt Valley High School in Wellington, Reid played 246 first-class games, scoring 16128 runs at 41.35, including 39 centuries, while taking 466 wickets at 22.60.
His cricket averages in Oamaru were impressive, too.
In 14 matches for Oamaru, he averaged 83 with the bat and 5.3 with the ball, and in his six matches for North Otago his batting average was 51 and his bowling average was 7.1.
He made his test debut for New Zealand, age 19, at Manchester during the 1949 tour of England, scoring 50 and 25, before standing in to keep wicket in the fourth and final test, during which he scored 93 in his team’s second innings.
He was the only surviving member of the famous “49ers”.
He finished his national career after the 1965 tour of England. He played 57 tests for New Zealand, of which he was captain for 34. He was later a New Zealand selector, manager, and an international match referee.
New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said Reid was a colossus of New Zealand cricket in the post-war era.
“He was, and will remain, a household name in this country, having helped pave the way for everything that has come in his wake,” White said.
“Our thoughts and respect are with his family at this time: wife Norli; children Alison, Richard and Ann, and his grandchildren, Oliver, Megan, Christina and Angus.”