In celebrating Michael Papps’ wonderful achievement in making the highest score for Wellington, with his monumental 316* against Auckland, last month, it is timely to consider the circumstances around the record he broke; that of John R Reid at the Basin Reserve against Northern Districts in January 1963.


Wellington dismissed ND for 226 on the first day of that match, with left-handers Bert Sutcliffe and Brian Dunning each making half centuries, and Wilf Haskell and Bruce Morrison taking three wickets apiece. At stumps, Wellington were 47-2 with openers Bruce Murray (21) and Grahame Bilby (16) both out, Barry Sinclair on 9* and Reid yet to score. 

JR Reid
JR Reid in full flight soon after passing 250. NZ Cricket Museum Collection

The next day – a Tuesday – saw one of the most sustained periods of hitting in First-Class cricket anywhere. In 215 minutes from the start of play the Wellington captain hit 296 runs, which included 35 fours and 15 sixes. He scored 174 of them in the 142 minutes before lunch. His fours were scored all around the wicket, while his sixes were hit from long-on to fine-leg, several of them out of the ground altogether.

His total of sixes was a world record that stood until 1995 when, then 20-year-old, Australian all-rounder, Andrew Symonds, hit 16 for Gloucestershire against Glamorgan in making 254* (see note below).

Reid’s dominance brought to mind his exploits for New Zealand in South Africa in 1961-62 that were seldom repeated at home. He added 110 for the fourth wicket with Paul Barton, who made the second highest score of 24; 86 for the sixth wicket with Artie Dick (17); and in a final frenetic hour put on 59 for the ninth wicket with Bob Blair (11), and 50 for the tenth with Bruce Morrison who finished on 1*. Reid’s score amounted to 70% of Wellington’s total of 422.

He was finally well-caught on the mid-wicket boundary by Gren Alabaster, which prevented him hitting his 16th six and bringing up what would have been his only triple century. It was his fourth double century and surpassed the 283 he had made against Otago at the same venue eleven years before. Interestingly, Bert Sutcliffe played in that match as well.

The Northern Districts bowlers kept up a steady over-rate with Peter McGregor taking 3-74 from 17.4 overs and All Black fullback Don Clarke 3-82 from 27 overs; while off-spinners Tom Puna and Alabaster took 1-82 from 21 overs and 2-55 from 15 overs respectively. Medium-pacers Terry Shaw and Peter Barton went for 69 from 13 overs and 49 from 8 respectively.

Northern’s second innings of 197 brought them level with the home side, top-scorers being Alabaster with 45 and Eric Petrie with 42. Pacy Wellington opening bowler, Bob Blair, took 7-84 including a hat-trick when he dismissed captain Bruce Pairaudeau, Sutcliffe and McGregor with successive balls.

Wellington needed just one run and bowlers George McConnell and Bruce Morrison opened the batting in the second innings, with the latter hitting the winning boundary in the second over to complete a ten-wicket victory before lunch on the third day.

Reid’s innings was his only century of the season but he topped the Shield batting table with 413 runs in seven innings at an average of 59.00. He also headed the bowling averages with his nine wickets coming at a cost of just 12.66 each. Blair finished with the most wickets, taking 27 at an average of 15.00 each, just ahead of Morrison who took 25 wickets at 17.04.

In what was a wet summer, Northern Districts went on to win the Plunket Shield for the first time, having three outright wins. Defending champions Wellington finished second, their only other outright victory being over Otago at Carisbrook in the final match of the season.

Note: The record for most sixes in a First-Class innings is now held by New Zealand left-hander Colin Munro, who clubbed 23 on his way to 281 from just 167 balls in 236 minutes against Central Districts at Nelson Park, Napier in March 2015.