Merv Wallace

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Merv Wallace
Personal information
Full name Walter Mervyn Wallace
Born (1916-12-19)19 December 1916
Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand
Died 21 March 2008(2008-03-21) (aged 91)
Auckland, New Zealand
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm offbreak
Relations George Wallace (brother)
Gregory Wallace (son)
Grant Fox (son-in-law)
Ryan Fox (grandson)
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 32) 26 June 1937 v England
Last Test 13 March 1953 v South Africa
Career statistics
Competition Test First-class
Matches 13 121
Runs scored 439 7757
Batting average 20.90 44.32
100s/50s 0/5 17/43
Top score 66 211
Balls bowled 6 34
Wickets - -
Bowling average - -
5 wickets in innings - -
10 wickets in match - -
Best bowling - -
Catches/stumpings 5/- 68/-
Source: Cricinfo, 1 April 2017

Walter Mervyn "Merv" Wallace MNZM (19 December 1916 – 21 March 2008) was a New Zealand cricketer and former Test match captain.

Former New Zealand captain John Reid called him "the most under-rated cricketer to have worn the silver fern."[1] He was nicknamed "Flip" by his teammates, because that was the strongest expletive they ever heard him say.

Cricket career[edit]

Wallace was born in Grey Lynn, Auckland. He left school aged 13, and was coached at Eden Park by Ted Bowley and Jim Parks. He played cricket with his brother, George Wallace,[2] with the Point Chevalier Cricket Club, and then the Auckland under-20 side.

He made his first-class debut for Auckland in the Plunket Shield in December 1933.[3] He toured to England in 1937, in a team weakened by a policy of refusing to select professional cricketers. He scored two half-centuries (52 and 56) on his Test debut, at Lord's. He headed the tour batting averages, scoring 1,641 runs at an average of 41.02. The peak years of his cricketing career were lost to the Second World War, and he did not play Test cricket again until March 1946.

He scored 211, his highest first-class score, against Canterbury in January 1940.[1] He joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, but was invalided out due to stomach muscle problems caused by an appendix operation.

He played in New Zealand's first Test against Australia, in Wellington in March 1946, which Australia won by an innings within two days. He also played against the English tourists in 1947. He joined the four-Test tour to England in 1949 as vice-captain to Walter Hadlee. He scored 1,722 first-class runs at an average of 49.20, including centuries against Yorkshire, Worcester, Leicester, Cambridge University and Glamorgan. He scored 910 runs before the end of May, narrowly failing to join Donald Bradman (twice) and Glenn Turner as the only touring batsmen to pass 1,000 runs before the end of May. He was less successful in the Tests.

British film actress Rona Anderson demonstrates her cricket skills to players of the 1949 New Zealand cricket team touring England during a visit to Pinewood Studios. Left to right: Martin Donnelly (kneeling), Geoff Rabone, Walter Hadlee (kneeling), Frank Mooney, Rona Anderson, Harry Cave, Merv Wallace, John Reid

He made his Test best score of 66 against England at Christchurch in 1951, and played his last two Tests as captain against the touring South Africans in 1953. Short but quick, he was able to score all round the wicket, with a particularly notable cover drive. His Test batting average of 20.90 was widely considered to fail to reflect his batting abilities.

After cricket[edit]

Wallace was the coach of New Zealand's first victorious Test team, against the West Indies at Eden Park in 1956.[4] Afterwards, however, his coaching prowess was overlooked by the New Zealand administrators. He ran a sports shop with tennis player Bill Webb from 1947 to 1982.

In the 2004 Queen's Birthday Honours, Wallace was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to cricket.[5]


He suffered from diabetes in later life, becoming blind and losing several toes. He died in Auckland on Good Friday in 2008. As a mark of respect, the New Zealand team playing England in the 3rd Test at McLean Park in Napier wore black armbands on Saturday 22 March.


His brother, George Wallace, and son, Gregory Wallace,[6] both played first-class cricket for Auckland, and his daughter, Adele, married rugby union player Grant Fox.[7] One of Wallace's grandchildren is the golfer Ryan Fox.[8]

A biography, Merv Wallace: A Cricket Master by Joseph Romanos, was published in 2000.[9][10][11]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Bert Sutcliffe
New Zealand national cricket captain
Succeeded by
Geoff Rabone

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Merv Wallace's legacy will live on", Cricinfo, 15 September 2000
  2. ^ George Wallace at Cricket Archive
  3. ^ Wellington v Auckland 1933-34
  4. ^ "Former New Zealand cricket captain Merv Wallace dead at 91", Associated Press, 21 March 2008 Accessed 27 March 2008
  5. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2004". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 7 June 2004. Retrieved 24 July 2016. 
  6. ^ Gregory Wallace at Cricket Archive
  7. ^ Agnew, Ivan (24 March 2006). "Cricket legend honoured". Times Live. Retrieved 24 July 2016. 
  8. ^ Jackson, Glenn (7 December 2012). "Fox happy to follow in son's footsteps". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 July 2016. 
  9. ^ "Merv Wallace's legacy will live on", Cricinfo, 15 September 2000
  10. ^ Romanos, Joseph (2000). Merv Wallace: A Cricket Master (Paperback ed.). Joel Pub. p. 203. ISBN 0473070987. 
  11. ^ Cameron, Don (Dec 9, 2000). "Joseph Romanos: Merv Wallace - A Cricket Master". NZ Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 

External links[edit]