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

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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.

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.”

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 2014.3

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.” (ICC)

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Sri Lanka to play at Bull Ring and Centurion

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The Wanderers also known as the Bull Ring for its intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams will host the New Year Test.  Sri Lanka have played two Tests there and lost both – by innings margin.

by Rex Clementine

Cricket South Africa (CSA) seem to have learned from their embarrassment last year, when Sri Lanka became the first Asian nation to win a Test series in South Africa and have left no room for complacency when they host Dimuth Karunaratne’s side in December this year. Accordingly, CSA has chosen Wanderers in Johannesburg (also known as the Bull Ring for its intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams) and Centurion for the two Tests.

While officially CSA would say that logistically the two venues, half-hour drive from each other, were ideal to host the two Test series, they are also the quickest tracks in South Africa and Asian teams usually don’t  last three days in those venues.

Sri Lanka for example have played two Tests at Wanderers and have lost both games by innings margin with the two games ending inside three days. At Centurion, meanwhile, Sri Lanka have played four Tests and lost all four (two games by an innings).

The blunder that CSA committed last time Sri Lanka toured South Africa was to schedule the games in the slowest tracks in the country – Durban and Port Elizabeth. That backfired as Sri Lanka clinched the series 2-0. Test match cricket is such a tough game in South Africa, that apart from England and Australia no other team had won a series in that country and Sri Lanka’s achievement surprised many.

Several members of the current squad have unhappy memories of Wanderers and Centurion and they will not be pleased that the games had been slotted there.

The team will stay in one hotel during their month long stay in South Africa and will shuttle between the grounds which are in close proximity to each other. Centurion will host the Boxing Day Test while the Wanderers will host the New Year Test.

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Wickramasinghe comes up with guidelines to train during the pandemic

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Training programmes of a number of top track and field athletes were interrupted at various training venues due to Covid 19 concerns last week. Some of the interruptions were reported in areas where no new Covid 19 positive cases were reported. With the second wave of pandemic starting to disrupt daily life, sports training too is set to suffer badly. But senior track and field coach Upali Wickramasinghe believes that training can proceed without an interruption even during the pandemic by changing the coaching or training style.

Wickramasinghe in his instructions for coaching during the Covid 19 pandemic lists out important guidelines to follow during training, pre training and post training.

Being equipped with a clearance certificate issued by health authorities and submitting parental consent with regard to training juniors will help avoid disappointments at venue entrances according to Wickramasinghe. Sanitizing participants and checking their temperature are the other prerequisites before starting training.

Maintaining social distancing, limiting the training to small groups or individuals, avoiding physical contact (no high-fives, no handshakes) and prohibiting of spitting and clearing of nasal respiratory secretion are the instructions for sportsmen engaged in non contact sports.

Training can be continued even for minimal contact games by classifying training areas into three or four and sticking to training partners and avoiding body blocking.

Training for full body contact games can be done by focusing more on promoting individual skills and technique, utilizing alternative practice equipment, prohibiting sharing of personal equipment and making sanitization mandatory even during training.

Disinfection of training equipment like javelin, shot put, relay batons, shuttlecocks and balls is a major requirement immediately after training. Wickramasinghe also advices participants to exit venues immediately after their training schedules are completed. He also advices not to share personal equipment like rackets, helmets shin – guards, water bottles and T – Shirts.

A former national athlete, Upali Wickramasinghe has been in the field of coaching after his retirement as a Major in the Sri Lanka Army. He has produced a number of top national athletes and was the first coach of Olympian Anuradha Indrajith Cooray, who holds the Sri Lanka National record in the men’s marathon. (RF)

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Sri Lanka to take 20 players to South Africa

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Left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando outperformed South African quicks Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn during Sri Lanka’s tour to South Africa in 2019 as they won the series 2-0. Here he traps Francois Du Plessis leg before wicket.

by Rex Clementine

Cricket South Africa has  come up with one of  the simplest health guidelines in these testing times and it could turn out to be  the  blueprint other sporting bodies will follow in conducting international sporting events.  The Sri Lankan team will be in South Africa in December for the Boxing Day Test and New Year Test and they will not be required to go through lengthy quarantine periods.  All what the players need is a negative PCR report before boarding the flight to Johannesburg and another negative report upon landing in Oliver Tambo International Airport.

Two negative reports are good enough for players to resume training immediately within the team bubble. The method is quite a contrast to what other countries follow. Sri Lanka’s mandatory 14 day quarantine period resulted in the Test series against Bangladesh being postponed.

The Sri Lankan team will not be given any warm-up games although they are expected to be in South Africa for two weeks prior to the Boxing Day Test match.  With the team in a bubble, net bowlers also will not be provided and hence Sri Lanka will be carrying 20 players in the squad. This avoids the risk of last minute replacements being called up due to injuries as well.

CSA is yet to announce the venues for the tour. England who will be in South Africa prior to Sri Lanka will be secluded in Cape Town and nearby Paarl. England will play three ODIs and three T-20 Internationals in South Africa.

This series will mark Sri Lanka’s return to international cricket after the outbreak of the pandemic in March this year. This year was supposed to be full of international cricket for SLC with several bilateral series at home including tours by India and England that bring much needed television revenue. SLC was also set to host this year’s Asia Cup but all that now has been pushed back due to the pandemic. SLC officials are confident that they will be able to reschedule all postponed series within the next 18 months.

SLC is expected to host England in January next year for two Tests. The national cricket team will then undertake a tour of West Indies.

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