Auckland: Former New Zealand Test skipper Barry Sinclair, who became the third Kiwi to score 1,000 runs in the longest format of the game after Bert Sutcliffe and John R Reid, died on Sunday aged 85, said New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Monday.
Sinclair played 21 Tests between 1963 and 1968, scoring 1,148 runs at 29.43, including three centuries — against South Africa, Pakistan and England.
He captained the side in three Tests, initially taking over the reins from an injured Murray Chapple on the morning of the second Test against England at Dunedin in 1966, retaining them for the final Test of the series at Auckland, and for the next Test against India, some two years later, according to NZC.
He then made himself unavailable for the second and third Tests against India due to personal reasons and work commitments, returning for the fourth Test of the series under the captaincy of Graham Dowling.
“In Bill Francis’ biography, ‘In the Pursuit of Excellent: The Barry Sinclair Story’, Francis wrote that Sinclair, juggling his personal life, job commitments, and cricket, in what was a financially amateur era, said he simply needed a break,” said the official New Zealand cricket website.
“I feel completely saturated with cricket,” Sinclair had said at the time. “I love the game and want to carry on with it. I feel that if I don’t have a break from cricket now I may feel like giving the game away completely and I don’t want to do that. Perhaps I have tried to do too much and I feel I must have a break if I am to carry on.”
Sinclair played 68 first-class matches for Wellington, scoring 3,583 runs at 35.12, including two centuries and 26 50s. In total, he played 118 first-class games, aggregating 6,114 runs at 32.87, including six centuries and 38 50s.
In his book ‘A Million Miles of Cricket’, John Reid named Sinclair at No.3 in his all-time best New Zealand Test team, commenting, “He is a batsman of great natural talents and he displayed them frequently in England last year (1965) and during his fine century against England at Auckland.”
Known by his team-mates and friends as ‘Sinky’, Sinclair stood only 156cm tall, but was adept at handling the short-pitched delivery and scored heavily square of the wicket — employing the pull and hook to good effect, as well as his signature shot, the cut.
Following his playing career, Sinclair retained a keen interest in the game, particularly in terms of former players and those experiencing hardship. In 2008-09 he became the inaugural Patron of the New Zealand Cricket Players Association (NZCPA).
Heath Mills, NZCPA chief executive said, “We were all very sad to hear of Barry’s passing this morning. We have been blessed to have him involved with the NZCPA for so many years. Barry was one of the first past players to sign up to our organisation and loved being involved and helping the current players achieve a better environment in the game. We are going to miss him greatly,” said Mills.