Jock Edwards, who passed away on Monday, April 6 aged 65, was one of Nelson sport’s most favourite sons, having fashioned a reputation as a swash-buckling wicket-keeper batsman for Central Districts and New Zealand through the 1970s and early 1980s.
A batsman who instinctively looked to attack first and defend only as a last resort, Edwards played eight Tests and six one-day internationals for New Zealand at a time the side was starting to make encouraging progress on the international scene.
Generous and engaging, he was quick to laugh and was well-liked by team-mates and opponents alike, once even drawing an apology from Dennis Lillee after the Australian fast bowler discovered the batsman he’d just sledged was only 18 years old.
Edwards was a bone-fide folk-hero within the Central Districts’ catchment and the stories and legends involving him are manifold.
He was famous for hitting sixes in an era when it was frowned upon before the lunchbreak, once drawing gasps from onlookers after depositing Ewen Chatfield into the lake at Pukekura Park.
But even that pales into insignificance compared with shot he described to former DomPost cricket writer Jonathan Millmow in 2013.
“We were playing at Trafalgar Park [Nelson] and someone bowled me a beamer and I cleared the grandstand and it landed in the back of a Transport Nelson truck,” said Edwards.
“The driver found the ball when he got to Spring Creek in Blenheim. He brought it back home to the old man. It was 30-odd miles. That was the biggest one.”
Edwards played 67 first-class and 31 List A fixtures for Central Districts, scoring five first-class centuries as well as hard-hit 99 against a 1977 touring Australian side which included, by this stage, his good mate, Lillee.
He was also part of the Nelson side that won and defended the Hawke Cup for 14 matches from 1979 and 1983.
His Test career was a stop-start affair, as he alternated with Otago gloveman Warren Lees over a four-year period between 1977 and 1981.
Edwards’ best return with the bat was in the third Test against England at Eden Park when he scored 55 and 54; his nadir was arguably at the end of the 1978 tour of England when he was dropped for the final Test and replaced by makeshift wicket-keeper, Bruce Edgar.
An outstanding all-round sportsman in his youth, playing both soccer and basketball to a high standard, Edwards' brother Dave is a former New Zealand bowls coach, and sister-in-law Jo is the most famous of the Edwards – having won bowls world cups and world championship titles.
Jock and wife Sam moved into the hospitality business after cricket, managing a hotel in Murchison before purchasing their own pub in Kokatahi, about 20 kilometres inland from Hokitika. They later moved back to Nelson.