Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
You are here: Home » Favourite Sports Yarns » Did a young New Zealand Radio Host help the Black Caps win a cricket test? He thinks so! (And as the story is 50 years old he reckons its well worth re-telling!)
7 January 2019
By Keith Quinn (from his book Quinn's Quips) In my career by early 1969 I was deemed sound enough by the bosses of the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, as a very young broadcaster, to be the regular studio host of the Sports Roundup radio show. It was quite simple broadcasting work and good for a young bloke to be involved with. But one day I think I played a major role in New Zealand winning a cricket test match!
Basically for that job I would arrive at one of the studios at Broadcasting House in downtown Wellington and open up the show. The 'show' actually was pretty uncomplicated action for me. After going on the sir I would read a few news, scores and stories from around the place. Then I would 'cross over' to a major sports event which we were featuring that day and which had commentary running ball-by-ball all for hours. I then waited in the studio, monitoring the broadcast in case it broke down. At any breaks in play, like lunch breaks or change of innings or halftime etc, I filled in by reading more sports news and adding additional news interviews and local updates.
On this particular day in early March 1969 (but 50 years from 2019) the game I was monitoring was a West Indies v New Zealand cricket test in Wellington. The weather was fine, the game was meandering along without need for my interruption, so I arrived at the studio I supposed I was in for an easy day.
For me at that time I felt that this was akin to being near the very peak of what was possible in the life of a sports broadcaster. As about a 23 year old I definitely thought of myself as a bit of a hotshot you must understand. I had made the odd appearance on TV reading the night-time sports news and my rugby reports from the Ranfurly Shield season in Napier were very exciting to do.
So when a man from the Radio Newsroom upstairs entered the studio holding a telegram (yes, a telegram!) and asked me what to do with it I had no hesitation.
It was addressed to "The Manager, West Indies Cricket team, c/- Broadcasting House, Wellington New Zealand" - and its content clearly and simply said 'Here is the West Indies Cricket team to tour to England at the conclusion of their tour of New Zealand.'
So I thought; 'wow! As I am in Broadcasting House this telegram must be directed at whoever the studio host that day is. So I thought 'I'll be the one who reads out this significant sports team in the next break in play!'
I never hesitated to think maybe the current West Indies team members, battling away against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve, might not themselves, have yet heard who of the current team were in for the England tour and who were in or out of the tour which was to follow in only a few weeks. 'Surely they would have received their own telegram.'
Accordingly on the fifth and final day of the test match, when the tea break came at the Basin Reserve and both teams had headed for their dressing rooms the radio commentary (no live TV sets in those days) was audible in the rooms for all the players to hear as they sat down for their 20 minute rest.
In my mind’s eye I now see someone in the West Indies room hearing a callow youth (that's me!) start to read from the telegram and my words beamed across the city into the West Indies touring team. The whole room would have shushed down as the implications of what was being said were taken in by the team.
The West Indies had had a tough time in Australia and accordingly, listening back home the WI selectors were not impressed. Changes were seen as being needed from the Australian to the English conditions. So right there on the radio were the changes the home selectors were making (six out of 16 of the Australian tourists were dropped as I recall);
They were read out very publicly by an ego-driven youth who was busting to make a name for himself; rather than checking to see if it was appropriate for him to do so.
Of course after tea apparently on the field at the Basin Reserve all hell broke loose. When the West Indies went back into the game the most angry ones came from among their bowling attack, those who had been callously and cold-heartedly and so publicly dismissed. So the bowlers ignored their previous tactics and just charged in, wildly flinging ball after ball loosely at the New Zealand batsmen. The tenor of the game quickly changed totally.
New Zealand had been set 166 to win and at one point were down to 39-3; so a tough last session lay ahead. But with Charlie Griffith and Richard Edwards, two of their speed bowlers both in a rage at being dropped - along with the injured great Wesley Hall New Zealand cruised on to a six-wicket win.
The clipping I kept for my files is not of a glaring next day one; I don't think the reporters at the ground were aware of the 'background drama.' Rather the clipping I have kept it is a 'reflective' interview the captain Garfield Sobers gave to Gabriel David of The Evening Post in which Sobers spoke of being '"bitterly disappointed" with the West Indies selectors and their method of choosing and announcing the side (for the England tour.)
When Sobers added 'the team was subsequently announced on Monday afternoon, with the players hearing the side during the tea break in the second test, 'and the entire pace attack having been dropped' he said he had 'threatened to quit' as West Indies captain.
But I your writer (now revealed as the secret announcer) was quietly thrilled.
So you be the judge, dear reader; had I had played my part for my country? Maybe I did - or maybe I didn't.
(But as I have often said 'it is my story and I'm sticking to it!')
This was the breakthrough day - NZ beat Wales 19-16 in Cardiff. There's been live TV coverage of every All Black test since.
Fylde and England
34 internationals for England 1975–82
7 internationals for British Isles 1977–80
William Blackledge Beaumont was just a lad of 11 when England won the Five Nations championship in 1963. When England next won the championship in March 1980, Beaumont was six days past his 28th birthday and was captain of the team. It was England’s first Grand Slam for 23 years, and it ensured Beaumont a prominent niche in that country’s rugby history.
In the 1970s a depression hung over English rugby – five times in that decade it had finished last in the Five Nations championship. The first signs of resurgence came when Beaumont, who had been a lower grade fullback at his club eight years before and an England lock for four years, led the Northern Division of England to victory over the 1979 All Blacks. His quiet style and unassuming manner belied a determination to succeed on the field. These qualities were somehow transferred to the England team of 1980.
In 1980, Beaumont led the British Isles to South Africa, a controversial tour accompanied by anti-apartheid protests in many parts of the world.
He played well and off the field behaved with quiet dignity. Sadly, his Lions team was not able to win for him another notable victory, going down 1–3 in the series.
Beaumont was a lock who had deceptive pace around the field and excellent ball skills. He was a front-of-the-lineout jumper and his strength at scrum time was a grand help to many an English international effort.
His playing career came to an abrupt end. In the 1982 English county final he complained about a head injury, which had affected him in several previous games, and left the field. Beaumont took medical advice and quit the game, right at the peak of his powers. He was only 29 years old.
There was great sadness in English rugby circles, but the ever-cheerful Beaumont carried on, making a name for himself as a TV commentator, then as a TV sports quiz panelist. He was awarded the OBE in 1982 and a CBE in 2008. He also became a rugby administrator, being England’s delegate to the IRB and in 2002 being voted onto the IRB Executive Committee. He has held that position since.
In 2012 he was elected Chairman of The Rugby Football Union (England).
From 2007 the winning team playing in the English County Championship is awarded the Bill Beaumont Cup.
How many test matches did Alan Whetton play for the All Blacks? 34,35 or 36?