Sportsman, teacher enriched many lives. If the ball was not going to hit the stumps then Wayne Blair would do his very best to smash it.
The former Otago cricketer was a lot more lenient during his 30 plus years at Dunedin North Intermediate.
Cricket and teaching were two of his great passions in life. He also dabbled in poetry, and he put his endless patience to good use as an enthusiastic fly fisherman.
Blair never lost his boyish sense of adventure. And in the many tributes which poured in following his death, it is clear he inspired and enriched many people’s lives.
He died at Dunedin Hospital on January 11 following a short illness. He was 70.
‘‘He was just a nice, all-round guy who didn’t expect anything from anyone else,’’ his wife, Helen Blair, said.
‘‘He was who he was and everyone loved him for it.’’
Blair probably learned how to play a square cut in the womb. His father, Roy, and great-uncle, James, both played cricket for Otago, so it was no surprise he embraced the game.
Born on May 11, 1948, he was the oldest of the four children of Roy and Joan Blair (nee Ingram).
His brothers, Roy and Bruce, proved worthy opponents, and no doubt sister Jan was drawn into whatever games were being played as well.
Bruce went on to forge an impressive first class career and he played alongside Wayne at club and provincial level.
Wayne Blair’s provincial record was none too shabby, either. He played 82 first class games and 31 one day games.
He scored two first class centuries and 15 half centuries, and played one game for the New Zealand under 23 team.
The left hander, who averaged 26.04, filled in behind the stumps occasionally and grabbed a couple of stumpings.
Former New Zealand and Otago cricket Stephen Boock played alongside Blair at club and provincial level.
They first met in the early 1970's at the North East Valley Cricket Club.
‘‘When he batted he had a philosophy of, if it wasn’t hitting the wickets, he could smash it,’’ Boock said.
‘‘He was a bold batsman. He was analytical, innovative and just good fun as well.’’
The pair were often locked in conversations and it was not always about cricket.
‘‘We would spend more time talking about what we were going to do socially than we would practising,’’ Boock said.
‘‘Wayne never lost his boyishness. I think that was probably one of the things I liked about him the most.
‘‘He just enjoyed having adventures. It was like being part of the Famous Five.’’
Blair was dropped from the Otago team in 1983. But he answered an SOS in December 1990 and returned to played another five games at the age of 42.
‘‘I’m sure his attitude was, ‘This will give me the opportunity to retire on my terms’,’’ Boock said.
Blair met his future wife when they were teenagers. They married at Maori Hill Presbyterian Church in 1969 and had two sons — Corey in 1975 and Jeremy in 1976.
‘‘He was a very hansom dad,’’ Helen Blair said.
‘‘They were always playing cricket. It was always part of our lives.
‘‘The boys were brought up on the boundary’s edge,’’ she said.
Blair’s first teaching job was at Corstorphine Primary School but he transferred to Dunedin North
Intermediate in the early 1970s where he remained until he retired in 2006.
Former colleague Jackie Wells described Blair as ‘‘the best kind’’ of teacher.
‘‘Parents wanted their kids in his room and the kids wanted to be there,’’ she said.
‘‘If you got into Mr Blair’s class, you’d made it.’’
‘‘His biggest achievement was helping them reach goals and developing the selfworth from that.
‘‘He was unusual in that regard with the amount of energy he put into helping the kids. He went the extra mile.’’
Blair is survived by his wife Helen and sons Corey and Jeremy.
Thank you to the ODT for the use of this article.