From flying stumps to underarm delivery: Bruce Edgar walks down memory lane

People who saw Bruce Edgar bat talk about his courage and heart. And Edgar, the New Zealand chief selector not too long ago, has interesting tales to tell.

Bruce Edgar was part of a competitive New Zealand side, making 1958 Test runs and 1814 ODI runs at 30.59 and 30.74 respectively.   -  S. DINAKAR

Bruce Edgar was a tenacious left-handed opener who took on the fastest of bowlers in the golden era for pacemen - the 70s and the 80s - without flinching.

People who saw him bat talk about his courage and heart. And Edgar, the New Zealand chief selector not too long ago, has interesting tales to tell.

The southpaw was part of a competitive New Zealand side, making 1958 Test runs and 1814 ODI runs at 30.59 and 30.74 respectively. He often opened on green seaming pitches where the ball bounced and seamed all day.

And Edgar recollects the first Test of the series against the all-conquering Clive Lloyd’s West Indians at Dunedin in 1980.

Michael Holding sent down a vicious delivery that hit John Parkar on the gloves and then travelled to ‘keeper Deryck Murray.

The umpire shockingly gave ‘not out’ and Holding produced a flying kick to knock the stump out of the ground.

Edgar saw the humorous side of it. “It was funny. Parkar was in pain. He even removed his gloves! The ball had struck him there. But then, the umpire had given him not out!”

Michael Holding kicks over the stumps in frustration after a decision for caught behind is turned down during the first Test between New Zealand and West Indies.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

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'Always talkative'

The former Kiwi opener had his theory for the umpiring lapses in that series. “The umpires were crouching on their knees looking for no-balls. By the time they looked up, the ball had already passed the batsman and was being relayed by ‘keeper Murray to Alvin Kallicharran at gully! Those guys were so quick.”

Edgar made a typically gutsy 65 in the first innings. But he too could not escape a sharp comment. “Kallicharran, always talkative, shouted from gully after an appeal was negated. ‘Is he [the umpire] your father’?”

New Zealand won the series 1-0 and Edgar made blood and guts 127 in the third Test at Auckland, taking on Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft.  

The southpaw, a chartered accountant by profession, said, “Holding was the quickest, Roberts spoke very little and hated batsmen, Garner had bounce and Croft was awkward with his run-up and angle.”

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Telling a tale

In an eventful career, Edgar was part of the infamous ODI where Greg Chappell asked his brother Trevor to bowl underarm. “Greg bullied Trevor to bowl underarm. I became good friends with Greg later. And I told him he had done the single biggest thing to promote cricket in New Zealand!”

Edgar played his cricket in a different era where his mom used to stitch his chest guard. And the New Zealanders, minutes before entering the arena for the WSC games in front of 50,000 spectators, would be washing and ironing their clothes in their hotel rooms.

And exchanging jerseys with Gundappa Viswanath, “a fine player and a lovely chap,” remains among his favourite memories.

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