By D.J.CAMERON

* Sportswriter. Died aged 74.

A week ago the famous if ageing Holy Trinity of New Zealand sportswriting were still together - Sir Terry McLean (a month short of 89), Dick Brittenden and Alex Veysey - three apparently indestructible men who had given half a century of New Zealand sporting journalism strong leadership and a distinctive texture and style.

On Monday the ink that had flowed so smoothly through the Brittenden writing ran dry. Forty-eight hours later, Veysey, a charming man, smiled his last.

Now only Sir Terry remains. Perhaps the McLean style of journalism, often powerful and direct, has left his skin thicker against the arrows of fate.

Brittenden had two great loves - his wife, Joy, and family of a daughter and four boys, and the grace and glory of cricket. A devotion to golf was secondary.

With his lengthy newspaper reports for the Press in Christchurch, and his tour and biographical books, Brittenden was tagged the Neville Cardus of New Zealand. Apparently the highest praise, but largely ill-directed.

Cardus had an affection bordering on affectation for words in his lordly dissertations on cricket or music. Brittenden loved his cricket totally, yet showed his respect for the game and the reader by depicting the glories, charm and humour of the game ahead of personal gratification.

Brittenden achieved everlasting fame for his accounts of the Bert Sutcliffe-Bob Blair drama at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, in late 1953, when New Zealand cricket was losing a test, but was gathering a world-wide victory for courage under fire.

That was the test in which Sutcliffe, sent to hospital after being hit on the ear by fast bowler Adcock, returned swathed in bandages and scored 80, including seven sixes.

Blair, who had learned just before the game that his fiancee had died in the Tangiwai rail disaster, appeared unexpectedly to bat at number 11, making his way to the wicket as the huge crowd rose in profound silence.

The pair added 33 in 10 minutes to leave New Zealand 187 all out.

Yet Brittenden showed as much delight and diligence in covering club cricket in Christchurch for 60-odd years before his health closed the innings a year ago.

Brittenden's was not a one-dimensional art. He put an irreverently whimsical face on professional wrestling for some years, and in later times composed "Random Reminders" - witty and often amusing 200-word comments on modern manners - made all the more quaint by the Press trying to hide these gems amid the dross of classified advertising.

He retired in 1984 and toyed with freelance work for a time. He would smile and talk about the perfect end to his long life - club cricket at Hagley and golf at Waitikiri with his beloved Joy.

Veysey may well have spread his talents more widely. As a youngish man with a pleasant singing voice, he joined the folk music movement under the pseudonym of Ash Burton.

He served in the Royal New Zealand Infantry regiment, then settled in as a sportswriter and columnist with the Dominion, the Sunday Times and latterly the Evening Post.

At the height of his sportswriting powers - brilliant work at the 1974 Commonwealth Games, followed by his book Colin Meads, All Black, which still holds the sports-book sales record of 60,000 - Veysey was seriously injured in a car crash.

During a long recovery he maintained that he must desert the dilettantish world of sportswriting and take on the more serious work of political journalism attached to the parliamentary press gallery.

Within months Veysey expressed his horror at the double- and treble-standards of political journalism, and hastily returned to columns and sportswriting, with the occasional pandering to a fixation for Phantom comics.

Both Brittenden and Veysey possessed the vital spark of humour and wit in their writing, but both wrote with an individual flourish. There were echoes of Beethoven when Brittenden was in his best form - coming off his long run, so to speak.

Veysey had similar affection for classical music but could also spread a mood of blues or jazz among his words.

Both were industrious as well as unusually talented. Brittenden wrote many cricket books, while Veysey ranged between cricket and rugby.

They have left me so many personal memories. Best of all, they have left us an invaluable library reflecting the virtues of a classically comfortable style that sportswriters would do well to copy.