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John Rutherford, WA's first Test cricketer, dies age 92.

John Townsend

John Rutherford, WA’s first Test cricketer, has died. He was 92.

Rutherford played his sole Test against India at Bombay in 1956, scoring 30 as an opener in his only innings and claiming one cheap wicket to have the rare feat of a Test batting average exactly double his bowling average.

Tests against Pakistan and India were played on the way home from the Ashes series, meaning the touring party spent more than eight months on the road.

While he did not play a major part in the series, Rutherford gained a memorable nickname – Pythagoras – after explaining to his great mate Keith Miller on the ship to England how to calculate the distance to the horizon by using Pythagoras’ Theorem.

Rutherford, who was born in Bungulluping, near Bruce Rock, and spent much of his life teaching in Merredin, was a regular for WA throughout the 1950s and a prolific club player who was part of University’s three premierships in that era.

He scored 2200 runs at 37.93 in 33 Sheffield Shield matches but his career ended suddenly at 28 when he suffered a stroke while captaining WA against the West Indies at the WACA Ground in 1960.

A gregarious and talkative character, Rutherford used his maths and science knowledge to develop interests in gold prospecting and magnetic levitation train travel.

He was also a regular guest at WACA and University events until quite recently, often regaling listeners with highly detailed stories of his time in England, including an incident in a Lancashire League match when firebrand West Indies paceman Roy Gilchrist attempted to impale him with a stump after a mid-pitch confrontation.

IMAGE: ESPN Cricinfo