Australia's oldest cricketer dies, aged 100

Cricket NSW pays tribute to former allrounder Harold Stapleton, who has passed away aged 100

Cricket Network

24 September 2015, 04:45 PM

Australia's oldest first-class cricketer, former NSW player Harold Stapleton, has died aged 100.

Stapleton, an allrounder who played one first-class match for NSW in 1941 before his career was cut short by the Second World War, celebrated his 100th birthday during the Sydney Test against India in January.

Stapleton marked the occasion with friends and family in Wollongong while the milestone was acknowledged on the scoreboard at the SCG, a match Stapleton watched on television with his nephew Kevin.

He was given a gift of a signed Australian Test shirt by Cricket Australia.

Quick Single: Stapleton brings up a unique century

Cricket NSW paid tribute to Stapleton, whose state career came to an abrupt end when WWII intervened. Stapleton served with the Australian Army in Papua New Guinea during the war.

"Harold Stapleton was one of the finest sportsmen the North Coast has produced,” Cricket NSW CEO Andrew Jones said.

"He played many sports to a high standard but excelled at cricket, playing for Northern NSW against Gubby Allen’s English touring team.

"A punishing left-handed batsman and left arm medium pace bowler, Harold joined the St George Club when it was captain by Bill O’Reilly and included Arthur Morris and Ray Lindwall.

"He played only one game for NSW but almost certainly would have played more had had it not been for the War, in which he served his country with distinction."

Former Victoria and Australia wicketkeeper Len Maddocks is now Australia's oldest living first-class cricketer, aged 89 years and 112 days. Invincible Neil Harvey is NSW's oldest surviving cricketer, aged 86 years and 350 days.

While Stapleton's career with NSW was short, he had great success at grade level with Sydney club St George.

Stapleton’s statistics include 2242 runs at 32.49 with three centuries and a top-score of 146, in addition to 93 wickets at 17.56 with best figures of 6-17.

He also has another claim to fame - he once hit Richie Benaud's father for six.

"I played against Lou Benaud and I can recall hitting him and it landed on top of the grandstand, and that was because Bill O'Reilly had put me in and told me to have a hit," Stapleton told the ABC.

Richie Benaud said his father described Stapleton as a “sensational cricketer”, while spinner O’Reilly once gave him a book and wrote on the inside cover that he was the best close-in fieldsman he had seen.

His other achievements in cricket include figures of 10-13 playing for Keira and triple-century in a match for Kyogle.

Stapleton's funeral will be held tomorrow (Friday, September 25) from 1.30pm at the Mater Dolorosa Catholic Church, 47 Balmoral St, Balgownie.