The Extraordinary Story of NZ Bowler Bob Blair

by Devanshu Mehta

It’s Christmas eve, 1953. 21-year-old New Zealand bowler Bob Blair is about to play a Test against South Africa in Johannesburg, when he is informed that the love of his life was killed when a train fell in to a river back home. Blair was left grieving at the hotel as the Test continued.

Richard Boock at Sunday Star Times has the story:

New Zealand, having finished off its hosts’ first innings, found itself on the wrong end of a near-lethal attack from South African paceman Neil Adcock. Everyone was hit. Sutcliffe was knocked unconscious and rushed to hospital. Lawrie Miller left the field coughing blood, Johnny Beck was hit so hard in the groin, his box was turned inside out. John Reid was left black and blue, Frank Mooney was peppered.

Sutcliffe collapsed twice, again at hospital but returned to the ground to resume the battle, re-entering the fray at six down [..] [b]ut the dashing left-hander soon found himself running out of partners.

That’s when Blair came back and played a defiant stand. Heart-breaking stuff. Spirit of cricket.

Sutcliffe told Blair: “C’mon son, this is no place for you. Let’s swing the bat at the ball and get out of here.”

That’s a philosophy of life, if I’ve ever seen one.

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