Ross Stanford 1917-2006 July 13, 2006

Ross Stanford dies aged 88

Ross Stanford, who was a member of the Australian Services side which toured England, India, Sri Lanka and Australia immediately after WW2, has died in Adelaide. He was 88.

Stanford was a schoolboy prodigy who made 416 at the age of 14. But his first-class career seemed to be over before it ever began when he was run-out for 0 on his debut for South Australia four years later in 1936-37. "He came in to bat with Don Bradman on his way to a record 369," a team-mate recalled. "He was so nervous he ran himself out without facing a ball." He was dropped and did not appear again before WW2.

He was a flight lieutenant with the RAAF based in England for much of the war on operational duties with the 617 "Dambuster" Squadron, winning the DFC. In 1944 the RAAF formed a side which played all over the country, but mainly at Lord's, and as a result in 1945 he was picked for the Australian Services side which played for much of that summer before visiting India and Sri Lanka on the way home.

"If it hadn't have been for the war, I would never have been in England," he later recalled. "I would never have played on these famous English cricket grounds, and I never would have played against these famous English cricketers, such as Wally Hammond who was captain, Len Hutton, Cyril Washbrook, Les Ames, and of course, quite a few others as well."

Stanford acquitted himself well, with a best of 49 at Lord's. On his return to Australia he immediately made two fifties for the Services against his old state and finished the season with 153 against Tasmania, his only first-class hundred.

He played another nine games for the South Australia before taking over the family market garden at Fulham Gardens.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo