John Rutherford, the first cricketer based in Western Australia to represent his country at Test level, has passed away aged 92.
Australian cricket pioneer John Rutherford has passed away aged 92.
Rutherford, the first West Australian cricketer to represent his country, played one Test match in October 1956, scoring 30 and taking a wicket against India at Brabourne Stadium.
The leg-spinner removed Indian batter Vijay Manjrekar for 30 during the drawn 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 right-handed opening batter accumulated 3367 runs at 31.76 in 67 first-class matches, scoring six centuries and 15 half-centuries.
Rutherford’s career ended abruptly after suffering a stroke during Western Australia’s 1960 tour match against the West Indies aged 31 — it was ultimately his last first-class fixture.
West Australian cricketers were viewed as irrelevant to national selection at the time, with the state side playing half the number of Sheffield Shield matches as its eastern counterparts.
But within 15 years of Rutherford’s Test debut, Western Australia produced a number of the country’s most recognisable 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 honour for an annual social cricket match played at Wedge Island near Lancelin.
“It’s made a colossal difference to me,” Rutherford told ESPNcricinfo in 2015.
“As soon as I say I’ve got a baggy green, up goes people’s attention. It’s helped me quite a lot in a number of ways. And I was very fortunate in getting eight months with the Australian XI.
“What chance did I ever really have of being the first Western Australian to play Test cricket for Australia?”
WA Cricket chief executive Christina Matthews said in a statement: “John Rutherford played an enormous role in placing WA Cricket on the map, at a time when the national side was dominated by players from the Eastern States.
“He was a talkative and charismatic personality, and his passion for cricket was infectious.
“On behalf of everyone at WA Cricket and the State’s cricketing community, we send our deepest condolences to the Rutherford family.”
Cricket Australia posted to Twitter: “We wish our condolences to those close to John Rutherford — the man who laid the foundations for every @WACA_Cricket representative who has since worn a Baggy Green.”