Gordon Lindsay Weir
June 02, 1908, Auckland
October 31, 2003, Auckland, (aged 95y 151d)
Right hand bat
Right arm medium
Wisden Cricketer Obituary
Stature rather than statistics. Modesty rather than majesty. These were the measures of Gordon Lindsay `Dad' Weir, of Auckland and New Zealand, who died on October 31. At 95 years and 151 days, he was the oldest living Test cricketer. Weir played his 11 Tests between 1930 and 1937, and his first-class career stretched from 1927-28 to 1946-47. He scored 10 centuries and took 107 wickets with his slow-mediums.
I once described Weir in a newspaper tribute as the `Father of Eden Park' because he played so much of his cricket there as well as playing for the Auckland rugby representative team. At our next meeting Weir fixed me with a piercing look. What was this nonsense about being `Father of Eden Park'? As politely as possible I pointed out that for every first-class cricket or rugby match, for every Test for over 50 years, Weir had taken his love of sport and his quiet smile to a seat among the men who had given this ground its sporting heritage. `I suppose that is a reasonable, but over-flattering, comment,' said Weir, `but please do not later burden me with a Grandfather of Eden Park tag.'
Weir did well in England in 1931, 1,035 runs on tour, but did not fare so well in 1937 when the team structure was not as strong as six years before, and wet weather and uncovered pitches removed Weir from the top rank.
It falls to Merv Wallace, New Zealand's finest batting technician and a mere colt of 87, to explain how Weir became known as Dad. "He lost a lot of his hair quite early, he then looked more elderly than the rest of us, and so became fondly known as Dad," says Wallace. And Wallace, a superb judge of a cricketer, describes Weir as "a very fine batsman, able to hit hard when needed but was better known as an elegant stroke-player. He could bowl his slow-mediums very well, and was a very good field - a 100% team man."
Wallace may also have helped direct the family lives of both Weir and his 1937 team-mate Walter Hadlee. Weir visited Wallace at an Auckland sports store, where the golf pro was coaching Weir. "Merv, be sure to introduce Dad to the girls on the boat," said the golfer. Weir and Hadlee were introduced to two friends on board the Arawa, the ship-board romance blossomed and in due course they became Mrs Betty Weir and Mrs Lilla Hadlee. The Dad nickname took new meaning when after World War II he became for some 12 years the selector-coach of the Auckland teenage Brabin Cup team, and ushered a dozen or so youngsters into first-class cricket.
Weir missed one starring role. He taught English at Mt Albert Grammar School, helped with rugby and cricket coaching, and gained the reputation of being an admirable teacher of young men. "You know," said an old friend at Weir's funeral service, "if they ever remade the film Goodbye, Mr Chips, Dad would have been perfect replacing Robert Donat in the title role."
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