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John Reid, New Zealand’s captain in their first Test win, dies at 92

John Reid, the former New Zealand captain, selector of the national team, ICC match referee and the 1959 Wisden Cricketer of the Year, has died in Auckland at the age of 92 years and 133 days. Before his passing, he was the fifth oldest living Test cricketer, and the oldest from New Zealand.

Reid made his debut for New Zealand against England in Manchester in 1949. He played 58 Test matches and scored 3,428 runs before retiring in 1965. One of his six hundreds came in the second innings of the Christchurch Test against England in 1963, where he scored 100 out of New Zealand’s innings total of 159. That total still stands as a record for the lowest innings score to feature a hundred.

An allrounder who bowled fast-medium, Reid took 85 Test wickets and also was a handy wicketkeeper, standing behind the stumps in the final Test of his debut 1949 series against England.

Reid, who gave up on dreams of being a rugby player due to a heart condition, was New Zealand’s captain in their first-ever Test win, against West Indies in 1956, which came in the country’s 45th game, 26 years after their first. Three years later, he touched glory on tour in South Africa in the 1961-62 season, scoring 1915 runs with seven centuries, which also included New Zealand’s first away Test win, coming under his captaincy.

He was also involved in the lowest innings total in Tests, when New Zealand were dispatched for 26 by England at Eden Park in 1955. “You can’t really explain it,” he told ESPNcricinfo in 2009. “In the first innings I got 73, and we got them out for 246. And then we score 26.”

His success as New Zealand captain – who he led 34 times – eventually saw him captain the Rest of the World XI that toured England in 1965 with Sir Garfield Sobers as vice-captain and Charlie Griffith, Wes Hall, Hanif Mohammad and Rohan Kanhai playing under him. Overall, he scored 16,128 first-class runs at an average of 41.35 and 39 hundreds with the bat, and with the ball took 466 first-class wickets at an average of 22.20. He also had seven stumpings.

His career-best 296 – with 35 fours and 15 sixes – for Northern Districts held the record for most sixes in a first-class innings for more than three decades until Andrew Symonds broke it with his 16 sixes for Gloucestershire.

While Reid was Test captain, he was also New Zealand’s selector. After his retirement, he briefly coached in South Africa but returned to New Zealand and became an ICC match referee between 1993 and 2002, officiating in 50 Tests and 98 ODIs. After that he was appointed president of New Zealand Cricket in 2003.

For his contributions to the sport in New Zealand, a gate at the Basin Reserve cricket ground in Wellington bears his name. Reid’s son Richard played nine ODIs between 1988 and 1991. Reid’s health was in decline after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2013. After Reid’s death, the oldest living Test cricketer from New Zealand is Trevor McMahon (aged 90 and 341 days). McMahon played five Tests in 1955-56, and Reid, too, featured in all those games.

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