Former pace bowler Frank Cameron, who died in Christchurch on Monday aged 90, will be remembered as one of the most influential figures in New Zealand cricket history.
Tall, rangy, with long fingers almost tailor-made for seam and swing bowling, Cameron played 19 Tests, featuring most prominently on the 1961-62 tour of South Africa, when he twice took five-wicket bags, the first (at Cape Town) helping New Zealand to only its second Test victory in 55 attempts.
Cameron ended his Test career with 62 wickets at 29.82, his best coming in the second Test against Hanif Mohammad’s Pakistan tourists at Auckland in 1964-65, when he took five for 34.
A true tail-ender with the bat, he nonetheless finished at the top of the New Zealand touring team’s batting tables on the 1965 tour of the UK, averaging 45 after 14 innings – in which he finished not out on 12 occasions.
He was very successful for Otago, playing 68 first-class matches between 1952-53 and 1966-67, taking 258 wickets at 20.17, including nine five-wicket bags. In all first-class cricket, he took 447 wickets at 21.60.
However, Cameron arguably played a much greater role as first a New Zealand selector (1968-69), and then New Zealand convenor of selectors between 1976 and 1986, overseeing what was to become the national men’s team’s first golden era in international cricket.
Employing his often repeated mantra that it should be harder to be omitted from the team than to be first selected, Cameron brought to the selection process a sense of consistency and logic that had been sadly lacking in previous eras, and the results spoke for themselves.
Whether as a member of the panel or the convenor, he had a hand in:
New Zealand’s first ever Test series win (in Pakistan, 1969)
New Zealand’s first Test win against India (Nagpur, 1969)
New Zealand’s first Test win against Australia (Christchurch, 1974)
New Zealand’s first Test win against England (1978)
New Zealand’s first Test series win against the West Indies (in New Zealand, 1980)
New Zealand’s first Test series win against India (in New Zealand, 1981)
New Zealand’s first Test win against England in England (1983)
New Zealand’s first Test series win against England (in New Zealand, 1984)
New Zealand’s first Test win in Australia (Brisbane, 1985)
New Zealand’s first home and away Test series win against Australia (1985-86)
New Zealand’s first Test series win against England in England (1986)
He was an honorary life member of NZC and also, briefly, an ICC match referee for three Tests between Sri Lanka and Australia, in Sri Lanka, 1992.
A well-respected school teacher, Cameron rose to the position of deputy principal at Otago Boys High School in Dunedin, and continued to play club cricket for the Dunedin club well into his forties.
He was awarded an MBE for services to cricket in the 1987 New Years Honours list, and in 2003 was honoured at the annual New Zealand Cricket awards with the Bert Sutcliffe Medal.
Cameron is survived by his wife Lynne, his sister Joan, and his four step-children and six step grandchildren.