One of NZ's oldest test cricketers dies aged 85 (7 July 1999)

7 July 1999

One of NZ's oldest test cricketers dies aged 85

Tim Dunbar

One of New Zealand's oldest surviving test cricketers, Leonard Arthur Butterfield, has died in Christchurch at the age of 85.

An all-rounder, Len Butterfield played in the ill-fated test against Australia at the Basin Reserve in March 1946.

New Zealand was dismissed for 42 and 54 on an erratic wicket, lost by an innings and 103 runs, and did not play another official test against the Australians until the 1973-74 season.

Mr Butterfield had an even less memorable match than his team-mates.

The right-handed No.7 batsman was a leg-before-wicket victim to the great Australian medium-pace leg-spinner, Bill O'Reilly, for a duck in both innings.

He took none for 24 off 13 overs with his bowling.

Six New Zealand players were making their test debuts and Mr Butterfield was among four never to play for his country again.

According to The Complete Who's Who of Test Cricketers, Mr Butterfield was "a good all-rounder who was not able to play regular first-class cricket".

In a career lasting from 1934 to 1946, he made 589 runs at 22.65 with a highest score of 82 and took 38 wickets at 19.65.

His most startling figures -- five for nine from 12 overs with five maidens for the South Island against North Island in the 1944-45 season -- are still included in the NZ Cricket Almanack's outstanding analyses.

A Canterbury team-mate of the 1930s, former test opener Jack Kerr recalled yesterday that Mr Butterfield was more of a medium-pacer than a quick bowler. "He did lift the ball occasionally and do a bit in the air."

Mr Kerr, now 88, was a co-selector with Merv Wallace of the New Zealand team for that 1945-46 test against Australia.

Besides his cricket exploits, Mr Butterfield was also New Zealand's chief harness racing stipendiary steward for 21 years.

He retired in 1978 when he reached the compulsory retiring age at that time.

Source :: The Christchurch Press