John Richard Reid, CNZM, OBE (born 3 June 1928 in Auckland) was a New Zealand cricketer who captained New Zealand in 34 Tests. He was the country's first cricket captain to achieve victory, both at home against the West Indies in 1956 and the first away win, against South Africa in 1962. During his career he was a leading force with both bat and ball.
An aggressive batsman, Reid once hit four sixes in ten deliveries on the opening morning of a Calcutta Test Match. He also held a then-world record of fifteen sixes in an innings of 296 for Wellington against Northern Districts. According to England captain Ted Dexter (Reid's opposite number in the 1962–63 series), Reid hit the ball as consistently powerfully as anyone he had ever seen. With a strong build, Reid had been set for a career in rugby league before a schoolboy bout of rheumatic fever prevented this. He drove powerfully off both the back and the front foot, and was a clean hitter to leg.
Reid was also a strong and aggressive bowler who, in his early days, was an authentic quick. He later turned to off-cutters and spin from a short run-up with a trademark side-step. Until a swollen knee slowed down his movements and checked his agility, he was a strong and multi-talented fieldsman at slip and in the covers. On the 1949 tour of England he was the reserve wicketkeeper, keeping wicket in several matches including his final Test.
Reid never featured in an England-beating New Zealand Test side, but his men secured a narrow first-innings lead against Dexter's eleven in the Third Test in Christchurch. Unable to take advantage, they collapsed at the hands of Fred Trueman and Fred Titmus for 159 in their second innings, of which Reid hit exactly 100 before stumbling from the field in pallid enervation. The second-highest score was 22. This remains the lowest all-out Test match total to include a century.
In 1953–54, after a period of poor form at the highest level, Reid went to South Africa and collected more than 1,000 runs and over fifty wickets. In 1955-56 New Zealand achieved its first Test victory under Reid's captaincy. The first 3 Tests of a 4 Test series were won easily by the West Indies but New Zealand won the fourth to notch up its first ever Test win.
His most successful season was 1961–62, when he hit 546 runs in five Tests against South Africa at an average of 60.64. Over the course of the tour of South Africa, he amassed 1915 first-class runs at 68.39. The media gave him particular attention, Dick Whitington dubbed him "the greatest batsman in cricket today", adding in his tour book, John Reid's Kiwis, "There is nothing petty or ignoble about John Reid, nothing bitter, disappointed, resentful in his system. To me, Reid shines from the ruck of many others who have played big cricket since the Hitler war, in much the same manner that Sir Roy Welensky, and yes Dr Hendrik Verwoerd, because of his courage, stands out from the other so-called statesmen of modern Africa."
Reid's view on apartheid was that it had nothing to do with sport; nor should it affect it. Even in the late-1980s, when he lived and coached in South Africa, he remained opposed to the sports boycott.
The 1965 tour of England found little success, coming as it did immediately after seven Test Matches in India and Pakistan. Reid led his side to a three-nil defeat but was appointed captain of the Rest of the World for two matches against an England XI at the conclusion of the season. These were the first matches of their kind and the last appearances at first-class level for John Reid.
A mentor to other players, Reid had much to do with the rises to prominence of Bevan Congdon and Richard Collinge, who would years later feature prominently in a maiden win against England. After his playing and coaching career, Reid became a match referee, known for his hard-hitting thoughts on the modern game. His son Richard played nine one-day internationals for New Zealand.
In 1969, Reid played in what is thought to be the first cricket match at the South Pole, with the striped barber's-type pole with a silver reflecting glass ball on top representing the actual Pole acting as the wicket. The match ended when Reid hit a six and the ball was unable to be found in the snow of the outfield. It has been noted that every shot he played, no matter where he hit it, travelled north.
"The figures mislead," confirmed John Mehaffey, whose favourite Reid was. "Nobody who saw him at the crease would dispute his own assessment that he could have increased his batting average by half again if he had played in the 1980s side with Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe."
|John R. Reid's Test Centuries|
|1||135||11||South Africa||Cape Town, South Africa||Newlands||1954||Drawn|
|2||119*||21||India||Delhi, India||Feroz Shah Kotla||1955||Drawn|
|4||142||38||South Africa||Johannesburg, South Africa||Wanderers||1962||Lost|
|5||100||42||England||Christchurch, New Zealand||Lancaster Park||1963||Lost|
|6||128||55||Pakistan||Karachi, Pakistan||National Stadium||1965||Lost|
John Reid wrote two books, Sword of Willow (1962) and A Million Miles of Cricket (1966).
Joseph Romanos wrote the biography John Reid: A Cricketing Life in 2000.
John Reid is a 55-minute DVD made by the Vid Pro Quo company in 2003 of interviews with Reid by Grahame Thorne and footage of matches he played in.