He was a batsman with a sound technique and a bowler who delivered the ball at around medium pace with an off break action.
Born in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern and educated at Melbourne High School, he was the son of Norman and Margaret Laver.
After leaving school he played club cricket in the Southern Suburban Churches Cricket Association, who he led to a premiership in 1938-39, and the Victorian Junior Cricket Association with Glenhuntly.
He also played two matches for VCA club Prahran before moving to Launceston in 1940 where he has remained ever since.
Laver joined the South Launceston club and first represented the North against the South in 1940-41. He won the NTCA batting average in his first season, scoring 590 runs at 42.10. Like many others, his cricket was interrupted by WW2.
He enlisted on 6 April 1942 and served in the 6th Division Provost Company. He was discharged on 9 May 1946 and returned to Launceston and his employment as a plasterer.
In 1946 Laver joined the West Launceston club and was selected in the Tasmanian team to play Victoria in Launceston in 1946-47. He was twelfth man for that match, but made his first-class debut in the following game in Hobart. He began brilliantly with 93, made in 94 minutes with 10 fours, rescuing the side from 75/5 to a more respectable total of 211 in a game that was eventually drawn.
That performance saw him selected in a Tasmanian Combined XI to play the MCC in Hobart the following month. The locals were strengthened by the addition of Australian players Sid Barnes, Keith Miller, Lindsay Hassett and Ian Johnson. Laver did not bowl in the tourists’ first innings, but contributed a useful 30 with the bat.
However, he was given an opportunity in the second innings and took 5/26 in 4.2 overs, including four wickets with his last twelve balls. He was denied the opportunity of trying for a hat trick when Norman Yardley declared the innings closed at the tea interval. This performance, along with his 93 in the previous game, remained his best performances for the State with both bat and ball.
Such efforts ensured that Laver was a regular selection in the Tasmanian team for the next few seasons. He was not a consistent performer and never quite achieved the success of his first two games, but he did contribute some useful efforts.
In 1950-51 Laver captained Tasmania against Victoria in Hobart – he made 42 in the second innings of a nine-wicket defeat.
That season he also led the State against the touring MCC team. For the Tasmanian Combined XI in Launceston he scored 59, reaching his half-century in 46 minutes with ten fours. According to the Mercury ‘his shots were not wild, but well-timed, and his fight to keep the strike from the tail-end batsmen, Cowley and Dollery, caused amusement.’
Veteran batsman Ron Morrisby returned to lead the Tasmanians against the West Indies in 1951-52, but in the Launceston match Laver was the team’s outstanding bowler. His figures of 4/81 included Everton Weekes, one of the famous three W’s, who he had stumped by Len Alexander for 29.
Laver’s first-class career concluded that summer with a match against Victoria. In thirteen games he scored 343 runs at 14.91, took 20 wickets at 42.80 and held thirteen catches. Often in the latter games he batted low in the order and seemed to be selected more for his bowling.
Having made his debut for the North in 1940-41 when he scored 46 in the first innings he did not play in the series again until January 1948. His best performance with the bat was 67 in Hobart in 1949-50. In the following match he made 51 and took 6/37 and 2/37. He also captured 5/85 in 1951-52. Laver captained the North on a number of occasions and played his final game in the series in 1954-55.
As expected, Laver was a fine Grade cricketer. In addition to winning the Association batting average in 1940-41 he also won the bowling average in 1947-48 when he took 31 wickets for West Launceston at 13.70.
Perhaps his most outstanding performance came for West Launceston against Westbury in 1950-51 when he took 9/66 from 28 overs and caught the tenth batsman. He must have enjoyed the Westbury batsmen because he captured 6/33 and 4/4 against them the following season. His final seasons in the NTCA were played for the Longford Club, then a participant in the A Grade competition.
After his playing days were over Laver retained an interest in the game and served as President of the NTCA for a period. When Tasmania entered the Sheffield Shield he created the Century Club, designed to raise funds to improve facilities at Launceston’s NTCA Ground and to assist young players in furthering their careers.
Cricket was only one aspect of Laver’s life. The plasterer who arrived in Launceston in 1940 became a manufacturer of fibrous plaster and a successful businessman. Throughout his long life Jack Laver has contributed much to the cricket and business communities. His unique century has been very well played.