Obituary, 2008

Dick Motz

ESPNcricinfo staff


Dick Motz in action during the first Test against England at Edgbaston in 1965 © Hulton Archive
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Motz, Richard Charles, was found dead in his flat on April 29, 2007, aged 67. In the 1960s when New Zealand were regularly beaten up by other Test teams, Dick Motz represented their best means of retaliation. He was a big strong outswing bowler with an easy action and ferocious energy. "He gave it heaps all the time," said his friend and Test skipper Graham Dowling. "He was a captain's dream." Motz was chosen for Canterbury as a 17-year-old, and took three wickets in his first three overs: a few weeks later he was talked about as a possible for New Zealand's 1958 tour of England.

At 21, he was spearheading the attack in South Africa when the team won their first Tests overseas and drew the series 2-2; Motz took 81 wickets on that tour. He came to England in 1965 and took five for 108 in the opening innings of the series, at Edgbaston (with the help of the keeper, Artie Dick, c Dick b Motz was his standard mode of dismissal that summer).

Motz had little support from the batsmen but, though they lost the series 3-0, he was named as one of the Wisden Five. His best Test performances came later, at Christchurch in 1967-68, when he took six for 63 as New Zealand beat India for the first time, and six for 69 a year later at Wellington in a win over West Indies, Sobers and all. In England in 1969 he twice dismissed Geoff Boycott for nought, and signed off at The Oval by becoming the first New Zealander to take 100 Test wickets. Motz was still only 29, but by then he was a martyr to back trouble: New Zealand being unable to afford a full-time physio in those days, Dowling would often kneel on Motz's back and pummel him himself. Motz could still delight the crowds with his tail-end hitting, which was sometimes more exciting than his bowling - he once hit 62 off three eight-ball overs from Ian Chappell for a New Zealand XI against South Australia, and his only first-class century, for Canterbury against Otago, came in 53 minutes. In retirement, however, he went rapidly downhill. He took a pub in Timaru, began drinking and allowed himself to balloon to well over 20 stone - 30 on some estimates. In 1989, his son Wayne was murdered in a random shooting in the centre of Christchurch, and Motz's decline inevitably worsened.

He didn't blame anyone: "It's me not getting on with my life," he said. "Mostly being too bloody soft and letting things happen." For a time, he drove a taxi, but struggled to get in and out of the cab. An operation to staple his stomach was a failure. He died of an apparent heart attack, living alone in a small council flat; his friend Dowling found the body.

© Wisden Cricketers' Almanack