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John R Reid

Former New Zealand all-rounder John R Reid passes away at 92

Obituary

John Richard Reid, former New Zealand great and their oldest surviving Test player, has died at the age of 92 in Auckland.

Reid was an exceptional all-rounder, who not only displayed aggression in the batting and bowling aspects of the game, but also impressed with his incredible skills in the field.

He was thought of as a strong rugby player in his youth, but a severe bout of rheumatic fever forced him out of the sport in his teens.

However, the setback did not stop Reid from achieving immense success in a different sport – he scored 3428 runs in 58 Test matches with an average of 33.28, hitting 22 half-centuries and six centuries in a career that spanned over 16 years. His maiden Test century, a knock of 135, came against South Africa in Cape Town in 1954.

I used to tell some terrible lies - how we are going to win this one and win that one, knowing damn well that we wouldn't

He scored two fifties in his debut series, against England, and was the only surviving member of the famous 49ers – the team that brought New Zealand cricket to the world stage when they toured England in 1949.

He was a genuine fast bowler at the beginning of his career, but had to sacrifice pace in the latter stages of his career, switching to off-cutters and spin in order to negate potential injuries. He finished with 85 Test scalps to his name, including four five-wicket hauls and best bowling figures of 6/60.

The right-handed batsman was the first captain ever to score 500 runs and pick up 10 wickets in a series with his tally of 546 runs and 11 dismissals in South Africa in 1962. The visitors also drew the series 2-2, which was an incredible achievement for New Zealand cricket at the time. He also held the record for most international runs by a New Zealand cricketer in a calendar year (871 in 1965), before it was broken by Brendon McCullum in 2014.

Reid was the first cricketer to lead New Zealand to a Test victory, when they beat the Windies by 190 runs in Auckland in 1956. He was also the captain when New Zealand defeated South Africa in 1962 to claim their first overseas Test win.

“I was the captain who won the first three Tests for New Zealand. All records are meant to be broken, but that one you can't break. But when we won our first Test, I had a glass of champagne for the first time. It was special, first win in 27 years,” said Reid in a conversation with Cricket Monthly back in 2009.

“I used to tell some terrible lies – how we are going to win this one and win that one, knowing very well that we wouldn't. I loved the game. I loved the sportsmanship.”

Reid officiated in 50 Tests and 98 One Day Internationals as an ICC referee.
Reid officiated in 50 Tests and 98 One Day Internationals as an ICC referee.

When the legendary cricketer hung up his boots in 1965, he held the record for the highest number of caps, runs, outfield catches, as well as wickets for New Zealand. He continued to be influential in international cricket even after his retirement. Reid was appointed as a national selector, and then travelled to South Africa for a couple of coaching stints. He also officiated in 50 Tests and 98 one-day internationals as an International Cricket Council match referee.

Reid was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, but fought against it to recover completely after undergoing surgery, and in August 2015, became the oldest surviving Test cricketer from New Zealand after Trevor Barber passed away. 

In 1962, Reid was bestowed with the tag of an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to the sport. He was also made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours of 2014.

Reid was a prolific first-class cricketer, who played 246 first-class games, scoring 16128 runs at 41.35, while taking 466 wickets at 22.60.

"John R Reid was New Zealand cricket’s Colin Meads," said New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White. "He was, and will remain, a household name in this country, having helped pave the way for everything that has come in his wake.

"Our thoughts and respect are with his family at this time: wife Norli; children Alison, Richard and Ann, and his grand-children, Oliver, Megan, Christina and Angus.

"NZC will acknowledge and mark John’s wonderful life and career at an appropriate time."

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