|Full name||John Chaloner Alabaster|
|Born||11 July 1930|
|Relations||Gren Alabaster (brother)|
|Test debut (cap 71)||13 October 1955 v Pakistan|
|Last Test||9 March 1972 v West Indies|
Source: Cricinfo, 1 April 2017
John Chaloner "Jack" Alabaster (born 11 July 1930 in Invercargill) played 21 Tests for New Zealand from 1955 to 1972. A leg-spin bowler, he was often partnered at the crease for his provincial side Otago by his younger brother Gren, who bowled off-spin.
Invercargill is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost cities in the world. It is the commercial centre of the Southland region. The city lies in the heart of the wide expanse of the Southland Plains on the Oreti or New River some 18 km north of Bluff, which is the southernmost town in the South Island. It sits amid rich farmland that is bordered by large areas of conservation land and marine reserves, including Fiordland National Park covering the south-west corner of the South Island and the Catlins coastal region.
Test cricket is the form of the sport of cricket with the longest duration, and is considered the game's highest standard. Test matches are played between national representative teams with "Test status", as determined and conferred by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The term Test stems from the fact of the form's long, gruelling matches being both mentally and physically testing. Two teams of 11 players each play a four-innings match, which may last up to five days. It is generally considered the most complete examination of a team's endurance and ability.
Otago is a region of New Zealand in the south of the South Island administered by the Otago Regional Council. It has an area of approximately 32,000 square kilometres (12,000 sq mi), making it the country's third largest local government region. Its population was 229,200 in June 2018.
Despite having played no first-class cricket he was selected for the New Zealand side to tour Pakistan and India in 1955-56. 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 South Zone by an innings in Bangalore. Later that season he was a member of the team that won New Zealand's first Test victory, against the West Indies at Auckland; he took two wickets as the West Indies were dismissed for their lowest Test score of 77.
He 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. 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. Wisden noted that he "spun the ball little" but deceived the batsmen with "his accuracy and variations of flight".
New Zealand has had a domestic first-class cricket championship since the 1906–07 season. Since the 2009–10 season it has been known by its original name of the Plunket Shield.
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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, its first-ever Test victory outside New Zealand, in the Third Test at Cape Town,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."
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He took five wickets in two Tests against England in 1962-63, 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. 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. In 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.
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.
He played Hawke Cup cricket for Southland from 1954 to 1975.When Southland successfully defended the title against four challenges in 1973-74 he took 36 wickets at an average of 8.02.
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Southland are a cricket team representing the Southland Region of New Zealand. They compete in the Hawke Cup.
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. He now lives in Alexandra, New Zealand.
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