Jack Alabaster

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Jack Alabaster
Personal information
Full nameJohn Chaloner Alabaster
Born (1930-07-11) 11 July 1930 (age 89)
Invercargill, Southland
BattingRight-hand bat
BowlingLegbreak googly
Relations Gren Alabaster (brother)
International information
National side
Test debut(cap  71)13 October 1955 v  Pakistan
Last Test9 March 1972 v  West Indies
Domestic team information
1955/56 - 1971/72 Otago
Career statistics
Competition Test First-class
Runs scored2722427
Batting average 9.7113.33
Top score3482
Balls bowled3,99230144
Wickets 49500
Bowling average 38.0225.37
5 wickets in innings 025
10 wickets in match04
Best bowling4/467/41
Catches/stumpings 7/-94/-
Source: Cricinfo, 1 April 2017

John Chaloner "Jack" Alabaster (born 11 July 1930) is a former cricketer who played 21 Tests for New Zealand from 1955 to 1972. A leg-spin bowler, he was the only New Zealander to play in each of the country's first four Test victories. He was born in Invercargill, and in domestic cricket was often partnered at the crease for his provincial side Otago by his younger brother Gren, who bowled off-spin.


Cricket career


Despite having played no first-class cricket Alabaster was selected for the New Zealand side to tour Pakistan and India in 1955-56. [1] He played in five of the eight Tests but took only two wickets. He did, however, take 2 for 30 and 5 for 99 when the New Zealanders defeated Indian domestic side South Zone by an innings in Bangalore. Later that season Alabaster was a member of the team that won New Zealand's first Test victory, against West Indies at Eden Park, Auckland; he took two wickets as the West Indies were dismissed for their lowest Test score of 77. [2]

Alabaster had successful domestic seasons in 1956-57 and 1957-58, in which season he took 36 wickets for 18.00, including 4 for 35 and 6 for 40 to help Otago beat Auckland at Dunedin. Otago also won the Plunket Shield, and Alabaster was selected to tour England in 1958. He showed good form in the early matches, taking 6 for 37 and 5 for 43 in an innings victory over Leicestershire. [3] He took 4 for 46 in the first innings of the First Test at Edgbaston against England, but lost his spot after the Second Test. In assessing his tour, Wisden noted that he "spun the ball little" but deceived the batsmen with "his accuracy and variations of flight". [4]


After strong seasons in 1959-60 and 1960-61 he returned to the national side for the tour to South Africa in 1961-62. He took his best Test match figures of 8 for 180 (off 75 overs) in New Zealand's victory in the Third Test at Cape Town, its first-ever Test victory outside New Zealand, [5] and took career-best first-class innings figures of 7 for 41 against a South African Colts XI at East London. He also took four wickets in New Zealand's victory in the Fifth Test; along with John Reid and Noel McGregor he played in all of New Zealand's first three Test victories. He took 86 wickets in 16 first-class matches on the tour, including 22 at an average of 28.04 in the Tests. Writing in Wisden , Geoffrey Chettle wrote, "In Alabaster we were privileged to meet the finest leg-spinner - a real finger-worker - seen in this country for many years." [6]

He took five wickets in two Tests against England in 1962-63, [7] but played less regularly in subsequent seasons. He next played a full season in 1967-68 and struck good form, including 5 for 43 and 5 for 79 for Otago against Northern Districts at Dunedin. [8] He was selected in all four Tests against the touring Indian team, taking 12 wickets at 31.83. In the First Test in Dunedin he took 3 for 66 and 3 for 48, as well as making his highest Test score of 34, batting at number 10. When New Zealand won the Second Test at Christchurch he became the only New Zealander to have been in the team for each of the country's first four Test victories. [9] [10]


He played no first-class cricket in 1968-69 or 1970-71, but in 1971-72 he took 22 wickets at 14.95 to help Otago to another Plunket Shield title. At the age of 41 he was selected to tour the West Indies in early 1972. He took 5 for 130 off 37 overs in the first match against Jamaica in Kingston and played in the first two Tests, but took only one wicket, when he bowled Gary Sobers in the Second Test. He retired from first-class cricket after the tour. [11]

He played Hawke Cup cricket for Southland from 1954 to 1975. [12] When Southland successfully defended the title against four challenges in 1973-74 he took 36 wickets at an average of 8.02. [13]

After cricket

Alabaster became Rector of Southland Boys' High School in Invercargill in 1981. He had previously been principal of Kingswell High School in Invercargill. He also taught sixth-form maths.

Personal life

Alabaster and his wife Shirley married in 1953. They live in Alexandra. Shirley received the Queen's Service Medal in 2009 for her work in support of the Dunstan Hospital in Clyde. [14]

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  1. Don Neely & Richard Payne, Men in White: The History of New Zealand International Cricket, 1894–1985, Moa, Auckland, 1986, p. 238.
  2. Wisden 1957, p. 837.
  3. "Leicestershire v New Zealanders 1958". Cricinfo. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  4. Wisden 1959, p. 232.
  5. Wisden 1963, pp. 908-9.
  6. Wisden 1963, p. 899.
  7. Neely & Payne, p. 328.
  8. "Otago v Northern Districts 1967-68". CricketArchive. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  9. R. T. Brittenden, "India in New Zealand, 1967-68", Wisden 1969, pp. 852-58.
  10. Neely & Payne, p. 380.
  11. Neely & Payne, p. 442.
  12. "Hawke Cup Matches played by Jack Alabaster". CricketArchive. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  13. "Bowling in Hawke Cup 1973-74". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  14. Jones, Pam (13 January 2018). "Couple's anniversary tradition just peachy". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 31 January 2020.