Tom Pritchard, New Zealand's oldest cricketer, dies aged 100

Tom Pritchard Andrew Alderson

Tom Pritchard, the former fast bowler from New Zealand and Warwickshire stalwart during the 1940s and 1950s, has died.

Pritchard, who claimed 818 wickets 23.30 across 200 first-class games - including 695 during a decade of service at Edgbaston - is arguably one of the finest bowlers never to have played Test cricket.

He came close to a call-up at the age of 20 in 1937, but a combination of the Second World War, which coincided with his mid-20s pomp, and a desire not to undermine his professional contract in county cricket, meant that he opted out of selection for New Zealand's Test tour of England in 1949, and the call did not come again.

Instead, he ploughed his fortunes into his Warwickshire career, claiming 100 wickets a season every year from 1948 to 1951, having completed a season of qualification in the second XI in 1946.

He eventually returned to New Zealand in 1986, 41 years later than originally intended. After serving in the Middle East and Italy during the war, he met and married the love of his life, Mavis, soon after peace broke out in September 1945.

They were married in December, and went on to raise two daughters in a 63-year marriage before Mavis's death in 2009.

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald on the occasion of his 100th birthday in March, Pritchard insisted that he regretted nothing about his career.

"Cricket took me from being a young schoolboy whose family - my mother's side emigrated from Germany in 1875 - were not interested in the game.

"I'm pleased I wasn't [picked for New Zealand in 1937] because it would've messed a lot of things up."