Otago Daily Times

Reid led NZ into mod­ern crick­et­ing world

- JOHN REID Sports · Cricket · Rugby · Paul Simon · New Zealand · Otago · Oamaru · British Petroleum · Wellington, New Zealand · New Zealand national rugby union team · England · England national football team · United Kingdom · Canterbury · West Indies · South Africa · India · Highlanders · John Reid, Baron Reid of Cardowan · Dorothy Lamour

Cricket great

THERE were times when young boys wanted the sum­mers to never end. They were there when the gates opened at Caris­brook and there again when they closed, day after glo­ri­ous day. Long years be­fore Paul Si­mon wrote the words, they were days of mir­a­cle and won­der.

John Reid, one of those most re­spon­si­ble for giv­ing New Zealand cricket in­ter­na­tional cred­i­bil­ity, played for Otago for a time. To say Reid “played” cricket is like say­ing Beethoven was just a mu­si­cian or van Gogh a dab­bler on can­vas. He lived up the road in Oa­maru where he worked for BP, and his stage was Caris­brook.

One day it might be his bat­ting and you’d swear the crack of his bat swat­ting the ball could be heard in Hill­side Rd. An­other, it might be his bowl­ing, one va­ri­ety or an­other. Ev­ery day, it was his field­ing, an­tic­i­pa­tion, speed and eye­sight all one amaz­ing blur of white on green.

John Richard Reid was born in Auck­land on June 3, 1928. He was reared and ed­u­cated in Welling­ton, and he was a free­man of the cricket world.

Reid’s sport­ing abil­ity and com­pet­i­tive­ness were ap­par­ent early. His Scot­tish­born father Nor­man, a rugby league full­back, tu­tored his son in the arts of rugby, es­pe­cially goal­kick­ing, with such ef­fect that Reid went straight into the Hutt Val­ley High School First XV in his first year.

Cricket wasn’t far be­hind be­cause he was in the First XI as a third­former as well, but rugby was his first love. He was a school con­tem­po­rary of later All Blacks Ron Jar­den and Jim Fitzger­ald and good judges were sure Reid would be an All Black, too.

Reid him­self had hopes but they ended after two bouts of rheumatic fever and he con­soled him­self with his sec­ond choice, cricket. Reid later said that it took a long time be­fore he could watch rugby again, such was his dis­ap­point­ment. The only good thing about rheumatic fever, he later re­called, was that he met and later mar­ried one of his nurses, Norli le Fevre.

His cricket was on an ever­up­ward tra­jec­tory. At the age of 19, he made his first­class de­but on New Year’s Eve 1947, scor­ing 79 for Welling­ton and put­ting on 145 for the sec­ond wicket with the games poly­math,

Eric Tindill.

Se­lec­tion in Wal­ter Hadlee’s team for Eng­land in 1949 seemed in­evitable and on the voy­age to the United King­dom, Reid gained a nick­name that he was to carry for the rest of his life. In a ship­board fancy dress party, he ap­peared barech­ested and wear­ing what passed as a loin cloth so one of his quick­wit­ted team­mates named him “Bogo,” for an over­sized chim­panzee that had ap­peared in a pop­u­lar Dorothy Lamour film of the time, The Jun­gle Princess.

Reid showed on that tour, when New Zealand went through the four tests with­out a loss, he was fast be­com­ing, if not al­ready, the most ac­com­plished all­rounder in cricket.

He was an at­tack­ing top­or­der bats­man, a brisk medium­fast change bowler who could also bowl off­spin if nec­es­sary, a fielder a cap­tain could trust in any po­si­tion, and in the fourth test, he was also wick­et­keeper. And just to em­pha­sise he’d ar­rived, he scored 93 in that fi­nal test at the Oval.

For the next 16 or so years, Reid was syn­ony­mous with New Zealand cricket.

He and his older friend and team­mate, Bert Sut­cliffe, were the glue that held the game to­gether; they seemed at times the only New Zealand bats­men ca­pa­ble of scor­ing cen­turies. The pair were to­gether for Otago too, mak­ing the sum­mers of 1956­57 and 1957­58 such de­lights.

They were a study in con­trasts: the left­handed Sut­cliffe the dap­per stylist, his bat a rapier; Reid the right­han­der the con­stant ag­gres­sor, his bat a clay­more.

There was also Reid’s bowl­ing. In one game at Caris­brook, against Cen­tral Dis­tricts in Jan­uary 1957, Reid scored 97 in the first in­nings

(of 264, with Eric Wat­son the only other sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor with 76). On the third day, Cen­tral was chas­ing 255 in six hours for a win, but within an hour, it was at 21 for six. By the end, Reid had seven for 20, his best first­class re­turn.

An­other day to savour was a year later against Can­ter­bury. Reid scored 201 in a 266­minute in­nings that in­cluded five sixes and 22 fours. In Can­ter­bury’s only in­nings, Reid took three for 15 from 19 overs, 15 of which were maid­ens.

But sta­tis­tics are sel­dom a true mea­sure of great­ness in sport. As im­pres­sive as Reid’s test and first­class analy­ses are, they don’t show how im­por­tant he was to the sides he played for, es­pe­cially New Zealand.

For much of his ca­reer, Reid played — as did Sut­cliffe — with a Nel­so­nian bur­den on his broad shoul­ders, that his coun­try ex­pected him to do his duty. In­vari­ably, he did.

He cap­tained New Zealand in the coun­try’s first test win, against West Indies in 1956, and in the first away win, against South Africa in 1962. It seemed noth­ing for him to hit sixes in the open­ing ses­sion of a test — he once hit four in 10 balls against In­dia. He also held the world record for a time of sixes in a first­class in­nings — 15 of them in a score of

296 for Welling­ton against North­ern Dis­tricts.

By the time he re­tired, he’d scored more runs, taken more wick­ets and more catches than any other New Zealan­der. He led New Zealand into the mod­ern crick­et­ing world. In a later era of lim­ited­over matches, he would have been a one­man sen­sa­tion.

Reid en­tered a crick­et­ing twi­light as a coach and se­lec­tor then a match ref­eree, of­fi­ci­at­ing in 50 tests and while his play­ing days were well in the past, his name and rep­u­ta­tion still gained him in­stant recog­ni­tion and re­spect.

He was made a Mem­ber of the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire in 1962 and a Com­pan­ion of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit in 2014. He and Norli had three chil­dren, Richard — who played one­day cricket for New Zealand, and later served as chief ex­ec­u­tive of the High­landers and Otago rugby — and Ali­son and Ann.

 ?? PHOTO: ODT FILES ?? Back in the South . . . New Zealand cricket great John Reid takes in the test be­tween the Black Caps and the West Indies at the Univer­sity Oval in 2008.
PHOTO: ODT FILES Back in the South . . . New Zealand cricket great John Reid takes in the test be­tween the Black Caps and the West Indies at the Univer­sity Oval in 2008.
 ?? PHOTO: SUP­PLIED ?? Reid shows his swash­buck­ling bat­ting style.
PHOTO: SUP­PLIED Reid shows his swash­buck­ling bat­ting style.

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