December 23, 2008

Oldest surviving Test cricketer turns 98


He is the only genuine double All Black, representing New Zealand at Test level in both cricket and rugby. One of Wellington's – and New Zealand's – most remarkable sportsmen, Eric Tindill, turned 98 last Thursday.

Tindill also umpired in Tests and was a Wellington and New Zealand selector. For the past four years, he has been the world's oldest surviving Test player and the second-oldest Test player ever, after Francis McKinnon, who played one game for England in 1879 and lived to be 98 years 324 days.

A left-hand opening batsman and wicketkeeper, Tindill toured England with Curly Page's team in 1937. On the way home he had the distinction of catching Don Bradman off Jack Cowie's bowling – the only time Bradman played against a New Zealand side. The match, between New Zealand and South Australia, was played in Adelaide to help cover debts incurred in England. Cowie and Tindill were delighted with their prized wicket, but others reckoned they cost New Zealand Cricket a fortune. Bradman was dismissed for 11 in the opening over on a Saturday morning and thousands of spectators, queuing for entry, simply turned around and left.

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