Photo to raise cancer funds

Famous father: Jayna Wadsworth aims to auction an anniversary photo of Ken Wadsworth, signed by current Black Caps stars.
COLIN SMITH/Nelson Mail
Famous father: Jayna Wadsworth aims to auction an anniversary photo of Ken Wadsworth, signed by current Black Caps stars.

The daughter of one of Nelson's greatest ever cricketers is marking the 35th anniversary of his death by raising funds for organisations committed to fighting the disease that killed him.

Ken Wadsworth played 33 tests and 13 one-day internationals for New Zealand as a wicketkeeper and hard-hitting batsman, before his life was cut short by melanoma at the age of 29.

He took nearly 100 dismissals in tests and scored over 1000 runs, and played for Nelson, Central Districts and Canterbury.

He was perhaps best known for scoring the winning runs in New Zealand's first test victory over Australia in 1974, and was the first wicketkeeper to score a century in an ODI.

Daughter Jayna Wadsworth, of Richmond, was only 18 months old when her father died 35 years ago today, and while she always knew he was a well respected cricketer, it wasn't until she spoke to other players that she realised what he had actually achieved in the game.

When the family was presented with a Black Cap and his test number, she spoke to another former keeper, Ian Smith, who conveyed what Wadsworth had achieved in his short career.

Smith had just broken one of his long-standing records.

"Ian Smith said to me 'Jayna, I'm 36, and I've only just beaten your father's record. Your father was 29 and we played twice as many games as what they did back then.'

"What he achieved was phenomenal."

Jayna Wadsworth said her father, who attended Waimea College and played for Stoke, was highly thought of by the Australians, who played a memorial match in his honour after he died. "As said by [author] Dick Brittenden `no one could surpass him in panache, in fighting spirit, in confidence and much more important than anything else - in the breeding of confidence among his playing colleagues'."To mark the anniversary of his death, she decided to take advantage of a recent visit by a current crop of Black Caps to Nelson by having them sign a photo of him, and auctioning it for the Nelson Cancer Society.

It was mounted and framed by Luke Dell at Guilded Edge Picture Framing as a contribution to the fundraiser, and is signed by Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram, Tim Southee and Hamish Bennett.

"I thought whether there was a way to do something with a photo of Dad and the signatories to then raise money for the Cancer Society.

"It still amazes me that people still die of cancer at any age, people just shouldn't die of it."

Jayna Wadsworth said a decision on how the photo was going to be sold had not been made, but she was considering publicising it at the Haven Sports Trust's annual fundraiser, and then auctioning it at the opening of the new cricket pavilion at Saxton Oval.

She is also collecting signatures on another photo of all living Black Cap wicketkeepers, to be auctioned at a later date, with proceeds going to the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

To find out more about the photo or make an offer, contact kenwadsworth.charity@gmail.com

The Nelson Mail