Eric Charlton Petrie
May 22, 1927, Ngaruawahia, Waikato
August 14, 2004, Omokoroa, Bay of Plenty, (aged 77y 85d)
Right hand bat
Eric Charlton Petrie, who died aged 77, was a cricketing gentleman, with a capital `G'. Between 1950 and 1967 the stocky, soft-handed keeper made his pleasant path through cricket - 115 first-class matches, 14 Tests, long and faithful duty, too, for the young Northern Districts side.
Perhaps one distinction set Petrie apart. During the New Zealanders' 1958 tour of England, not the happiest expedition by a young and raw side, Petrie's unfailing enthusiasm and his expert keeping were major morale-boosters. And the whole New Zealand side gained a psychological lift when Petrie's cricketing stature was increased a cubit or two by his being picked for the Gentlemen against the Players in that old and celebrated relic of Victorian times.
Petrie began his career with Auckland in 1950-51 and won his national cap with New Zealand in India and Pakistan in 1955-56. He had the greatest impact as a senior figure in the young Northern Districts side promoted to first-class level in 1956-57. For the next 10 years and 57 games for Northern Districts Petrie remained a superb keeper and much admired throughout the land.
His old friend Roger Harris, who opened the Auckland batting for many years, cherished their friendship. "I was lucky enough to get runs quite consistently against Northern Districts," said Harris just after Petrie's death. "In fact, there were quite a few half-centuries along the way. And, whenever I got a 50 against Northern Districts, Eric would give me a smile and a `well batted' and then get back to business. In my time Eric Petrie was the great gentleman of New Zealand cricket."
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