John Rutherford, the first Western Australia-based cricketer to represent his country at Test level, has died aged 92.
Australian cricket pioneer John Rutherford has died at the age of 92.
Rutherford, the first Western Australian cricketer to represent his country, played a test match in October 1956, scoring 30 and winning a wicket against India at Brabourne Stadium.
The Leg Spinner eliminated Indian batsman Vijay Manjrekar by 30 during the tied second Test match of Australia’s first tour of India.
Rutherford, who became Australia’s 204th men’s Test cricketer, would never represent his country again.
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The opening right-handed batsman amassed 3,367 runs at 31.76 in 67 first-class matches, scoring six centuries and 15 half-centuries.
Rutherford’s career ended abruptly after he suffered a stroke during Western Australia’s 1960 tour match against the West Indies aged 31; ultimately, it was the last first-class match of hers.
Western Australian cricketers were considered irrelevant to the national team at the time, with the state team playing half as many Sheffield Shield games as their eastern counterparts.
But within 15 years of Rutherford’s Test debut, Western Australia produced several of the country’s most recognizable cricket icons, including Graham McKenzie, Dennis Lillee and the late Rod Marsh.
After his retirement, Rutherford donned the Baggy Green as a regular guest of honor at an annual social cricket match played on Wedge Island near Lancelin.
“It’s made a huge difference to me,” Rutherford said. ESPNcricinfo in 2015.
“As soon as I say I have a baggy green, people’s attention goes up. It has helped me a lot in several ways. And I was very lucky to spend eight months with the Australian eleven.
“What chance did I really have of being the first Western Australian to play Test cricket for Australia?”
WA Cricket CEO Christina Matthews said in a statement: “John Rutherford played a huge role in putting WA Cricket on the map, at a time when the national team was dominated by players from the eastern states.
“He was a talkative and charismatic personality, and his passion for cricket was contagious.
“On behalf of everyone at WA Cricket and the state’s cricket community, we send our deepest condolences to the Rutherford family.”
Cricket Australia posted on Twitter: “We wish our condolences to those close to John Rutherford, the man who laid the foundation for all @WACA_Cricket representatives to wear a Baggy Green since.”