UC sporting legends – Best left-handed batsman in the world!


Martin Paterson Donnelly, a former University of Canterbury student is currently known in the cricketing world as the world’s best present-day left-handed batsman. Donnelly grew up in Waikato, attending New Plymouth Boys’ High School. From a young age his passion and talent for the game of cricket was obvious. The player made his first class debut for Wellington at the age of 19, in a Plunket Shield match against Auckland. Surprisingly, after only one first class match Donnelly was selected for the 1937 New Zealand tour of England. His first international test debut was at Lords before he even reached the age of 21.

After returning to New Zealand, Donnelly moved to Christchurch where he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at UC. Playing for the university as well as Canterbury, he won the Redpath Cup as the best batsman in the Plunket Shield competition in 1939. Not only was Donnelly an exceptional cricketer, he was talented at rugby, playing code for UC as well as the Canterbury Provincial XV and the New Zealand Universities side. Following the completion of his degree, Donnelly enlisted in the army and began serving in 1941 in Africa and Italy. He rose to the rank of major quickly.

After the war, Donnelly continued his achievements, attending Worcester College in Oxford. Over his three years playing for Oxford he scored six centuries and became captain. He also headed the Oxford batting averages every year and this was where he gained his reputation as the best left-handed batsman in the world. Whilst in England, Donnelly continued with his rugby also, playing for the English national rugby side against Ireland in Dublin in 1947.

The former UC student was elevated to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and died in October 1999, aged 82. One of the four houses at New Plymouth Boys’ High School is named in his honour.

2 thoughts on “UC sporting legends – Best left-handed batsman in the world!”

  1. Martin Donnelly the best left handed batsman in the world? lol. He played only 7 test matches. Umm better left-handers off the top of the head. Brian Lara, Allan Border, Sir Gary Sobers, Graeme Pollock, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kumar Sangakkara. I’d even rate NZ player Bert Sutcliffe higher than Donnelly. The whole argument is like saying Willie Watson was a better bowler than Sir Richard Hadlee because he got more wickets in one game.

    1. Hi Mark, thanks for your comment. I am basing this information from what I’ve found online about Martin and three separate websites labelled him as this including on his Crickinfo play profile. Although this may not be up to date with current athletes, it is still a great achievement that some people believe this to this day. It was more so his achievements whilst playing for Oxford rather than New Zealand that gained him this title. Thanks 🙂 -Sophie

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