'Double All Black' Eric Tindill dies aged 99

BY MARK GEENTY
Last updated 11:46 02/08/2010
Former New Zealand rugby and cricket test player Eric Tindill is pictured in a 2003 photo at an exhibition of rugby photos.
CRAIG SIMCOX/Dominion Post
FINAL INNINGS: Former New Zealand rugby and cricket test player Eric Tindill is pictured in a 2003 photo at an exhibition of rugby photos.
Eric Tindill the cricketer on the drive in a picture from the 1930s.
ON THE DRIVE: Eric Tindill the cricketer on the drive in a picture from the 1930s.
All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu presents Eric Tindill with a birthday cake to mark the
CRAIG SIMCOX/Dominion Post
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu presents Eric Tindill with a birthday cake to mark the "double All Blacks'' 99th birthday in 2009.

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Eric Tindill, who was the oldest surviving All Black and test cricketer, died yesterday. He was 99 years and 226 days.

His passing was confirmed today by Paul Tindill, his oldest son.

Born in Nelson on December 18, 1910, Eric Tindill last year overtook Englishman Francis McKinnon, who lived to be 98 years and 324 days, as the world's oldest surviving test cricketer. The oldest surviving test rugby player was Scotland's Mac Henderson, who was 101 years and 309 days when he died last year.

Nicknamed Snowy, Tindill achieved the unique distinction of playing both rugby and cricket tests for New Zealand, and later refereeing test rugby and umpiring test cricket.

Of the country's other double rugby-cricket internationals, George Dickinson and Curly Page played only in cricket tests, Charlie Oliver, Jeff Wilson and Brian McKechnie played only in rugby tests and Bill Carson never played a test in either sport.

A halfback and five-eighth, Tindill emerged from Wellington's Athletic rugby club.

His solitary All Blacks test was against England in London in January 1936, which they lost 13-0. The match was forever known for Russian Prince Alex Obolensky's two tries for England. Tindill made 14 appearances on that British tour and played 16 All Blacks matches in all.

A left-handed batsman and wicketkeeper, Tindill's international cricket career spanned nearly a decade, either side of World War Two in which he served as a member of the NZEF.

He played five tests between 1937 and 1947. He toured England in 1937 and Australia in 1937-38 as well as playing in home series in 1936-37, 1938-39, 1945-46 and 1946-47.

Tindill also had the distinction of catching the great Australian batsman Sir Don Bradman off the bowling off Jack Cowie in Adelaide in 1937-38. It was the only time Bradman played against a New Zealand side.

An outstanding sporting allrounder, Tindill also played football and table tennis for Wellington.

On retirement he continued to play a big role on the national sporting scene.

Tindill refereed the All Blacks' first two tests against the touring Lions in 1950 in Dunedin and Christchurch and then the second test against the Wallabies in Dunedin in 1955.

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Then, in the 1958-59 season he returned to Lancaster Park and umpired New Zealand's cricket test against England.

He served as secretary of the Wellington Cricket Association and became a a selector for both Wellington and New Zealand.

In 1995 Tindill was inducted into the New Zealand sports hall of fame.

In 2005 he was officially recognised as a legend of Wellington sport in one of his last public appearances.

According to the allblacks.com website, the oldest surviving All Black is now Maurice McHugh, 93, who played three tests between 1946-49.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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