Former international cricketer and rugby player Raymond Hunter dies

Tributes have been paid to former Ireland international cricketer and rugby star Raymond Hunter who has died aged 82.

By Carmel Robinson
Friday, 18th December 2020, 9:44 am
Raymond Hunter.
Raymond Hunter.

A right-handed batsman and right-arm medium pace bowler, he played 28 times for the Ireland cricket team between 1957 and 1967 including eleven first-class matches against sides including Australia, India, West Indies and MCC at Lords. The MCC were captained on the day by the legendary Sir Len Hutton. Undaunted by the occasion Raymond scored 43 not out and 68 not out in his 2 innings.

Raymond won 10 caps for Ireland in rugby in the old Five Nations Championship and toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions in 1962. He was also invited to represent the Barbarians on a number of occasions.

Raymond’s brother Lawrence also played rugby for Ireland, making them one of only a handful of brothers to achieve the honour.

Raymond Hunter.

Raymond was the last player to achieve international status in both rugby and cricket, a feat not repeated in the last 6 decades and one that will never again be achieved.

For decades he was a player and stalwart of Lurgan Rugby and Cricket Club, not far from his adopted home in Bleary and served as a player, captain, committee member and trustee at Portadown Rugby Club.

Born in Belfast in 1938, he moved to Dunmurry and attended Wallace High School where he became Head Boy.

He was a NI Schoolboy Representative in rugby, cricket, hockey and football - early evidence of a hugely gifted all round sportsman.

Raymond Hunter.

Raymond started playing rugby with CIYMS and rose up to make his Ulster debut in 1961.

His first international appearance was in Twickenham against England where he made his debut alongside the legendary Willie John McBride.

In 1972, when Lurgan won its first Senior Cup, Raymond played a leading part in the two innings match where he scored 87 not out and 65 not out making him the first person in 87 years of the competition to score an unbeaten half century in each innings.

He remained a stalwart of Lurgan Cricket and Rugby Club for many years and was heavily involved on the management committee.

Raymond Hunter.

Despite his sporting prowess Raymond’s first love was his family. He loved nothing more than spending time with his wife Maureen, children and grandchildren.

His daughter Susan said: “As a family, we have been totally overwhelmed by the support we have received from people who have called or messaged on social media from all over the world. We would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support.”

Portadown Rugby Football Club said: “A talented sportsman, Raymond represented Ireland and the British and Irish Lions as well representing Ireland at Cricket.

“Two of Raymond’s sons, Alan and Neil played on the 1st XV at the club as did his grandson, Stephen.

Raymond Hunter.

“Our thoughts are with Maureen, Alan, Neil, Graeme, Susan and the extended Hunter family at this time.”

Lurgan Rugby Football and Cricket Club also issued a statement.

It said: “It was with sadness that members of Lurgan Rugby Football and Cricket Club learned of the passing of former 1st XI cricket captain Raymond Hunter.

“Raymond was an exceptionally talented sportsman excelling at both cricket and rugby, playing both at the highest level.

“He won 10 caps for Ireland in the old Five Nations competition between 1962 and 1966 and also toured with the British and Irish Lions.

“But it is with cricket that he will be most fondly remembered for at Pollock Park. Raymond was an all-rounder, a medium pace bowler and right handed batsmen, winning 28 caps for Ireland and captaining the team three times, his best performance being in the 1961 match against the MCC when he claimed five wickets for just 22 runs.

Raymond Hunter with his Lions cap.

“In total he scored over 800 runs including three half centuries and took 33 wickets with the ball at international level.

“Raymond started his cricket career at Lisburn but moved to Lurgan in the 1960’s.

“He made many memorable performances for the town side, but his most influential game was probably in the 1972 Senior Challenge Cup Final, when he top scored with crucial knocks of 87no and 65no to ensure the trophy came to Lurgan for the first time.

“All three of Raymond’s sons, Alan, Neil and Graeme, followed in their father’s footsteps at the club, all playing with distinction for the 1stXI.

“Off the field Raymond served for many years on the cricket section committee and was instrumental in the development of the cricket square and the grounds in general when the rugby and cricket clubs amalgamated in the mid-seventies and cricket eventually moved to Pollock Park in 1980.

“To his wife Maureen, sons Alan, Neil and Graeme and daughter Susan and their extended families, we send our deepest sympathies.”

A private service was held for Mr Hunter at their family home with burial after at Newmills Presbyterian Church.

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