Top Nelson batsman dies at 79

OBITUARY: Nelson cricket has lost one of its more durable Hawke Cup heroes following the recent death of Graeme Lowans aged 79.

Known to friends and team-mates simply as Monk, Lowans was also a talented footballer and badminton player. But it was at the batting crease that he arguably made his biggest impression.

A member of the Richmond Toi Toi club, Lowans fashioned an enviable cricketing career involving 69 games for Nelson between 1957 and 1976 when, as a left-handed opening batsman, he forged a special bond with his opening partner, Lawrie Reade.

Lowans and Reade opened the batting together for Nelson for 15 years, their lengthy partnership incorporating the record 28 Hawke Cup defences set by Nelson between 1958 and 1965. Lowans would play in 39 Hawke Cup challenge and elimination matches, scoring 2120 runs at 37.19 and hitting four centuries and 11 half centuries.

"He was a gritty player, a good fighter and just did his job properly - as we both did I suppose," said Reade. "He was a good, reliable player and I always felt if we failed, then the team failed, which didn't happen very often as openers go."

In total, Lowans scored 3865 runs for Nelson, averaging 38.65, and hit seven centuries and 21 half centuries with a top score of 148 against Wanganui during the 1964-65 season. He remains second to John Smith (4260) as Nelson's second highest runscorer.

Lowans played 23 first-class games for Central Districts from 1959 to 1965, scoring 1053 runs at 28.45. His only first-class century came in 1961 when he scored 100 against Canterbury in their Plunket Shield match at Christchurch's Lancaster Park. He also scored eight half centuries.

His lengthy football career began in 1947, while still at Nelson College, with the YMCA team. He later transferred to the Hospital Club, which became Suburbs in 1962, and continued to turn out for the club until the early 1980s.

He first represented Nelson as an 18-year-old in 1952 to launch a 15-year involvement with the side and also played for a combined Nelson, Marlborough, Buller and Wellington team against touring Chinese and Australian sides. In 1967 he won the Nelson Football Association's player of the year award.

He coached various junior teams, including the Nelson under-12 side to runner up at the 1959 South Island tournament and the under-14s to the championship title two years later.

Lowans was made a life member of the Suburbs club in 1976.

Administratively, he was on Suburbs' management committee during the 1970s and served as acting secretary and eventually as chairman in 1979. He was Suburbs' delegate to the Nelson Junior FA, joint selector for the club's first and second division teams in 1977 and club delegate on the Nelson FA's management committee.

He was also a referee and was elected vice-president of the Nelson Referees Association in the late 1980s.

With racket in hand, Lowans played for the Stoke Badminton Club, for which he also held numerous administrative positions, including president. He was also president of the Nelson Badminton Association, having first represented the province as a player in 1956. His Nelson representative career also included a match with a touring Australian team in 1963.

Lowans is survived by his wife Marilynne and daughters Alexandra, Lyndal and Erica.