John Ward - Click to enlarge
Timaru’s former international cricketer John Ward was honoured at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium last night when his ‘Pillar of Pride’ was unveiled.

Ward, his wife Shirley and family attended a brief but poignant unveiling, carried out by Canterbury Cricket chairman Peter Sharp, with several life members in attendance.

Ward becomes the 10th Canterbury cricketer honoured by having his image placed on one of the stadium’s `Pillars of Pride’.

The pillars, which hold up the new stand, are being used to pay tribute to Cantabrians’ favourite sons.

Ward has joined Canterbury sporting icons such as Sir Richard Hadlee, Grizz Wyllie, Fergie McCormick and Robbie Deans.

Ward, specialist wicketkeeper, played 54 first class matches for Canterbury in a career spanning 13 years and snared a record 153 dismissals.

That record has been surpassed by Lee Germon, and it is a huge acknowledgment to Ward considering the time it took to get to 50 games, 50 years ago.

Sharp said Ward was thoroughly deserving of the honour, a cricketer who was a consummate professional and skilled craftsman.

“The pillars recognise legends, people who have really contributed something special to Canterbury cricket and rugby.

“The people of Canterbury are connoisseurs of sport and sporting people and we are talking here about the real cream.”

Sharp said that right from the first game Ward played – he figured in a brave rearguard action with Dick Motz when Canterbury were eight wickets down – he showed he had character.

“He saved the game for Canterbury, who went on to win the Plunket Shield.”

Ward was someone who did everything he could to help his team-mates, especially the bowlers.

Sharp also noted he did it all without leaving Timaru.

“He’s probably the only cricketer who hasn’t felt the compulsion to move to Christchurch and he was so good he didn’t have to.”

A humble Ward said he was honoured to be acknowledged especially in the company on the pillars around him.

“I thoroughly enjoyed playing for Canterbury, so I’m thrilled.”

South Canterbury Cricket chairman Harvey King, who also travelled to Christchurch, said he was delighted for Ward.

“It’s a very special occasion and John is thoroughly deserving of the recognition. It also just goes to show what you can do from Timaru if you are dedicated.”

Ward’s path to playing for Canterbury was unusual in the fact he was first picked to play for New Zealand as a 20-year-old.

Only hand injuries held him back from playing more than his eight tests but Ward was always positive despite that.

He became the 99th Black Cap taking 16 catches and a stumping.

Ward follows fellow cricketers Chris Cairns, Graham Dowling, Dick Motz, Tony MacGibbon, Paul McEwan, Walter Hadlee and his son, Sir Richard, along with Rod Latham who represents both cricket and rugby, on the pillars and is the 36th inductee.

The pillar is situated between doors 25 and 26 at AMI Stadium.

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