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Dick Motz: The cricketer of a schoolboy’s dreams – Almanack

Dick Motz
by RT Brittenden 5 minute read

Dick Motz was a dynamic fast bowler for New Zealand who played 32 Tests in the Sixties. He was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1966.

The generation of cricketers reared on Neville Cardus recalls with warm affection the great men he paraded before them. There were many whose arts and skills were made vividly familiar, others whose earthy humour sent ripples of laughter around the world. But if students of Cardus have been required to begin with the three Rs, they would probably have found them to be Wilfred Rhodes, Emmott Robinson and Tom Richardson.

Modern cricket knows no-one to compare with Rhodes, no-one as vastly obstructive as Robinson; but the New Zealanders, on their 1965 word tour, produced a man who showed something of Richardson’s tenacity.

Richard Charles Motz was born in Christchurch on January 12, 1940, and he is already a legend in his own land, for he is the cricketer of a schoolboy’s dreams – a fast bowler who hits sixes. Dick Motz’s family was prominent in harness-racing, in which New Zealanders take an avid interest and there is not much time for cricket. His father played occasional Sunday games of completely casual character, and to these his young son would go. Some members of this team would have fitted admirably into AG Macdonell’s famous eleven and then, for reasons which in the circumstances were regarded as entirely valid, there were defaults, young Motz went in last. He was never asked to bowl.

A former Canterbury player, James Gray, was one of the more regular players. He had scored 343 in a senior competition match in 1918 – still a Christchurch record – and he was noted for his aggression in those days. Some of his hitting habits inspired young Motz, whose cricket really began at the North New Brighton primary school. In each of his last four years there, he won the cup for the school’s best all-rounder. Even then, it was fast bowling and vast hitting.

When he was only 13, Motz played for the Christchurch Suburban Association’s third-grade representative team, and at Linwood High School his successes began to attract attention. In his last two years, he was captain of the first XI, and he ended his cricketing boyhood with three centuries and 76 not out in his final four innings.

Motz then joined the Riccarton club, and in little more than a year, he was in the top grade. He was only 17 and still a newcomer to senior cricket when he was chosen to play for Canterbury in the annual inter-provincial tournament for players under 20. He was thus engaged in Auckland when Tony MacGibbon had to withdraw from the Canterbury Plunket Shield team about to meet Northern Districts. Motz was flown to Christchurch and was bowling within a few hours of his arrival. His debut was absurdly dramatic – a wicket in his second over, two more in his third, four in all, for 40. Then he won the added satisfaction of helping Sammy Guillen score 67 for the ninth wicket in 49 minutes. Motz played that season in an inter-island match and in a final trial before the team was chosen for the 1958 tour of England. There was a temptation, wisely resisted, to send the boy overseas; but a hint of forced growth was apparent.

In 1959/60, Motz won a place in the second unofficial Test against Australia. He was developing, and he had earned a reputation for bold batting. Canterbury’s game with Auckland showed him in a different light. On the last afternoon, Canterbury collapsed swiftly on a pitch from which the ball turned savagely and sometimes lifted shoulder high. Eight wickets were down for 40 when Motz joined John Ward, but they batted with grim purpose for 40 minutes and saved the game. Motz was having maturity thrust upon him.

The summer of 1960/61 established Motz firmly in the public’s affections. He took 7-48 in an innings by Wellington, 5-34 in the second match between New Zealand and DRW Silk’s MCC side. For Canterbury against the MCC, he made 65 in 52 minutes, four of his six towering sixes coming off the Yorkshire left-armer Don Wilson. In the first unofficial Test, there were innings of 36 in 45 minutes and 60 in 80 minutes, Motz hitting David Allen for three huge sixes in one over.

Motz’s batting talents have been expressed only occasionally in the last few years, but his progress as a bowler has been sustained. His South African tour in 1961/62 was a triumph – 81 wickets at 17.7 to head the first-class averages – and a leading role in New Zealand’s most successful Test series. With the years Motz has grown in stature, stamina and skill. Strong and willing, he was an automatic choice for the exhausting 1965 tour. From the hot-house of Calcutta to the ice-box of Edgbaston, he performed with tremendous courage and outstanding ability. Although he is not of startling speed, Motz can be decidedly quick, and with his pace he allies the outswinger and movement off the pitch. He is a great-hearted until he drops. At Worcester, the disciplined aggression of his 95 runs set the New Zealanders off to a highly satisfactory start, and on little more than half an England tour, Motz took 54 wickets. For the entire tour, he topped bowling aggregates and averages.

Motz is married and has a small daughter. His wife, formerly Miss Loretta Todd, was also a fast right-arm bowler and a hard-hitting batswoman for Canterbury. Illness almost certainly cost her a place in the New Zealand women’s team.

Dick Motz was the first New Zealand bowler to 100 Test wickets, achieving the milestone in his final game at The Oval in 1969. In 142 first-class games, he took 518 wickets at 22.71

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