Tony MacGibbon 1924-2010 April 17, 2010

Veteran of New Zealand's first Test win dies

Tony MacGibbon, who died aged 85, was one of the survivors from New Zealand's first Test win over West Indies in 1955-56. Only just Sam Guillen, Jack Alabaster and John Reid, the captain, remain from that famous side.

A tall, brisk bowler and capable batsman, MacGibbon made his debut for New Zealand against England at Lancaster Park in 1950-51 and went on to play 26 Tests, taking 70 wickets at 30.05, at the time a New Zealand record, and scoring 814 runs at 19.85.

On the 1953-54 tour of South African tour he was crippled by illness, but still took 22 Test wickets. His 35 runs in a low-scoring match contributed considerably to New Zealand's maiden Test victory, while an aggressive 66 at Old Trafford was the highest score by a New Zealander in the dismal England series of 1958. At the end of that tour, MacGibbon remained in England to read Civil Engineering at Durham University

"Tony was a hell of a good team man and he had some good figures," Reid said. "I can't say we won too many Tests with him, but we did win one and that was the first. I used to pick up quite a few catches in the slips off him.

"He was a tall guy, about six-foot five, who used to bowl outswingers nicely. Of course, in those days, it was the old back foot no-ball rule - the drag rule - so as long as you landed behind the wickets you could reach way over the front-foot line and he would have been bowling at that pace from 19 yards."

Speaking to the Southland Times, Reid recalled one occasion on New Zealand's 1958 tour of England when against Essex, MacGibbon was less accurate. "We were told it was one of the first games that had been televised by the BBC and he opened the bowling and sprayed them a bit. I was fielding at second slip, I think it was, and he hit me on the shin it was that bloody wide.

"At the end of the over I must've stormed down the other end and he said, `Take it easy, Boss. Don't go crook, we're on television'. He was a bit of a character and one of my best team-mates."

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa