By Terry O’Neill.
Waitaki Boy’s High School’s back field was an early venue for North Otago representative cricket and groundsman, the late Stan Bremner, produced a playing surface renowned throughout New Zealand.
A 1924 North Otago adversary was the touring New South Wales side brimming with talent. It included players of the ilk of Arthur Mailey with his reputation from the 1921 Australian tour of England where he took 141 wickets, and against Gloucestershire, 10 for 66; and fine batsman Allan Kippax, who by the 1936 season, had scored 12,762 runs at an average of 50.
North Otago batting first made 216 with Percy Hargreaves (54) and Bill Uttley (48) the best of the batsmen while Mailey took six for 89. New South Wales with the bat replied with 493 for five for a first innings win; North Otago, in its second innings, made 111 for nine.Included in the North Otago side was a 17-year-old Waitakian Denis Blundell.
Nineteen twenty eight saw North Otago lined up against a full Australian side with players like Kippax, Bill Ponsford and Ron Oxenham. North Otago batting first made 118 and Australia replied with 448 with Oxenham (169) and Kippax (76). At stumps on the final day North Otago was 268 for six with Carl Zimmerman on 117 not out (including five sixes and fifteen fours), and he brought up his century against Australia in only 46 minutes. Zimmerman also played for Otago.
The 1956 North Otago team faced the touring West Indies with players like Garfield Sobers, John Goddard, Alf Valentine and Bruce Pairiaudeau. North Otago made 108 in its first innings with best batsmen Dave Malloch (36), John Reid (28) and Harold Balk (24) while Tom Dewdney took seven for 35. West Indies replied with 282 scored in 162 minutes with Ron Hannam, the pick of local bowlers, taking four for 57 including the wickets of Pairiaudeau, Anthony Atkins, “Collie” Smith and Sobers as well as running out one of the other batsmen. The West Indies team had nine test players, and in this series New Zealand registered its first win in a test match .West Indies obviously was softened up by North Otago!
In 1968 the touring Fijian side played North Otago. Fiji batting first made 311 with Tony Cartwright taking four for 32. North Otago in reply made 261 for nine declared with Brian Papps unbeaten on 136. Harry Apted led the way in Fiji’s second innings of 190 for seven with 96 not out, Russell Payne taking four for 67. North Otago in its second innings made 174 for five. Keith Murray top-scored with 38. One of the highlights of North Otago’s innings was Papps and Bob Mason scoring 68 runs in the 15 minutes before lunch.