15 Oct 2020

Cricket great JR Reid dies aged 92

5:06 am on 15 October 2020

John R Reid - New Zealand cricketing great and the country's oldest surviving Test player, has died in Auckland, aged 92.

Reid, regarded as one of the world's best allrounders during his heyday in the fifties and early sixties, captained his country in 34 Tests including, most notably, New Zealand's first three victories.

New Zealand cricket players Bert Sutcliffe (l) and John Reid (r) shake hands at the Plunket Shield Cricket competition, 1959.

New Zealand cricket players John Reid (right) and Bert Sutcliffe shake hands at the Plunket Shield Cricket competition, 1959. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The first, against the West Indies at Auckland in 1956, broke a winless streak of 26 years for the New Zealand team. The second and third both came during New Zealand's drawn series in South Africa in 1961-62.

Reid was a hard-hitting right batsman and a brisk seam bowler who played 58 tests, scoring 3428 runs at 33.28, while taking 85 wickets at 33.35. Of his six Test centuries, the highest was 142 against South Africa at Johannesburg, in the Boxing Day Test of 1961.

As a 19-year-old, Reid made his Test debut at Manchester on 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.

Following the 1965 tour of England Reid retired, but returned to the United Kingdom only a few weeks later to captain the Rest of the World in two matches against England at Scarborough and Lord's.

He was later a New Zealand selector, manager, and an ICC match referee.

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.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White hailed Reid as a colossus of New Zealand cricket in the post-war era, a player who led from the front in all three disciplines, and carried the hopes of his team, more or less, on his own broad shoulders.

"John R Reid was New Zealand cricket's Colin Meads," he said. "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."

A private family service will be held for Reid, and a memorial service at the Basin Reserve in Wellington is being planned.

'A giant of his time'

Sports historian and author of Reid's biography, Joseph Romanos, told Morning Report he was comparable to some of New Zealand's greatest athletes.

"I think he was on a level with Meads, Whineray, Don Clark, Snell and Halberg, he was a real household name, world figure in his own sport, so he was very big.

"He played a long time ago, people will have more recent names come to mind but he was a giant of his time," Romanos said.

Romanos said he was renowned for his aggressive style of play and would have fitted in perfectly to teams like Australia that were dominating world cricket at the time.

"He would have been a superstar at one day cricket (too) because one day cricket was just made for him. He actually went and played a season or two of league cricket in England and he set records which stand today... his all round skills were fantastic."