Skip to main content

Cricket Test

By March 17, 2010September 13th, 20112 Comments

The Second TestWhen the New Zealand crick­et team (note not BLACKCAPS™) first toured South Africa in 1953 they had nev­er won a Test Match and were giv­en no show against a ruth­less South Africa, on pitches tailored to sup­port their fast, mean quick bowlers.

The crick­et was tough, and vic­tory was ulti­mately bey­ond New Zealand’s grasp, but it was­n’t the crick­et that ensured that the series became a NZ sport­ing legend. The 1953 Second (Christmas Day) Test is fam­ous for the pro­foundly mov­ing story of one play­er, Kiwi fast bowl­er Bob Blair, and his story has been brought to the stage by tal­en­ted act­or Jonny Brugh (Sugar & Spice) and it’s play­ing now at BATS.

During the rest day of the Test, Blair got the news that his fiancée Nerissa Love had been killed along with 150 oth­ers in the Tangiwai Rail Disaster. When play resumed on Boxing Day nobody expec­ted Blair to play any fur­ther part in the game. Without giv­ing too much away, the rest (as they say) is history.

Brugh’s play is a mov­ing and beau­ti­fully acted treat­ment of the story. He plays dozens of parts (Blair & Love; crick­eters Rabone, Reid, Sutcliffe, etc; Prime Minister Sid Holland) and imbues them all with fine detail and a sweet com­ic sens­ib­il­ity. He brings, not just the game to life, but the era – a dif­fer­ent age.

Last night, thanks to Sir Ron Brierley and a plane tick­et from England where he now lives, Bob Blair was present at BATS to see his story told. He’ll spend the rest of the week catch­ing up with old com­rades and watch­ing a game that still looks like Test Cricket down at the Basin this week­end. It was won­der­ful to watch this great trib­ute with the man him­self and his family.

Go see The Second Test – it runs at BATS until Saturday 27th March.

Jonny Brugh and Bob Blair at BATS

Jonny Brugh and Bob Blair at BATS Theatre after The Second Test.

[Cross-posted to Wellingtonista.]


  • Dan says:

    John Smythe at Theatreview has sug­ges­ted that for clar­ity I make clear that the match star­ted on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was a rest day. I’m happy to accom­mod­ate him.

  • Saw this on Saturday night. Loved it. Indeed, it’s more than a play about crick­et – as your review noted, it brought the era to life. The use of video foot­age taken by one of the play­ers was kind of haunt­ingly well used.