CRICKETER OF THE YEAR 1969

Jimmy Binks

In June 1955 a slightly built, fresh-faced nineteen-year-old wicket-keeper, Jimmy Binks, arrived at a Nottingham hotel to take part in his first game for Yorkshire. He was playing for the Colts XI at Jesmond when he received the instruction to join the senior side.

He knew noting of Yorkshire's idea to play him for the rest of the season after trying Roy Booth for the first half of the season. They planned to give each player an extended trial before deciding who was the better.

His memories of the game are still fresh. "It was the best batting surface I ever saw. Hutton and Hardstaff scored centuries and the leg-break bowlers, Leadbeater and Dooland, each had more than 100 runs hit off them." The young Binks collected his first three victims behind the stumps and was delighted when he was told he was wanted for the next fixture.

He played to the end of the season, found no joy in the winter news that Roy Booth asked Yorkshire if he could have permission to join Worcestershire, and felt no rancour when Yorkshire played him completely through the 1956 season on a match-to-match basis. The committee wanted to be certain that Binks was the man for the job and they did not decide this until the 1957 season was four weeks old. He had a long apprenticeship.

How right were the committee facts have since demonstrated. On August 18, 1968 against Derbyshire at Bradford, Binks caught Hall from the slow bowling of Wilson to obtain his 1,000th scalp. At the end of the 1968 season, after playing thirteen and a half years of almost uninterrupted cricket with Yorkshire he had claimed 1,008 victims.

In the whole of that time he missed only one match for Yorkshire when, at the start of the 1964 season, M.C.C. invited him to play at Lord's against Surrey instead of playing for his county against Oxford University. At the end of the 1968 season he had played in 388 consecutive Championship matches -- a wonderful record for wicket-keeper.

There is every indication of Binks being the fourth great and long-serving 'keeper for Yorkshire, following David Hunter 1888-1909, Arthur Dolphin 1905-1927, Arthur Wood 1927-1946.

James Grahan Binks was born at Hull on October 5, 1935. His father, Jim, was a keen cricketer and kept wicket for the G.P.O and Hull 2nd XI. His fingers were gnarled and mis-shapen. He stood up to the stumps for every bowler, suffered many injuries, and for this reason wanted his son to be a bowler. But the son wanted to be like father.

He played for Maybury High School as an opening batsman and wicket-keeper. It was the same at Riley High School and at Hull Technical College where he studied engineering. He was chosen as a wicket-keeper for the Hull 2nd XI.

Binks left college at 18 and was immediately called for National Service, only to be discharged after ten days with suspected lung trouble. In the meantime, as the result of his father writing to the Yorkshire club, Jimmy at 17 had played as deputy for the Yorkshire stumper, Don Brennan, in pre-season practice fixture against Hull University.

He did so well that J.S. Rhodes offered him the position of wicket-keeper in the Leeds League side and after one season the Leeds Club offered him a similar opportunity with their Yorkshire Council side at Headingley.

Following two months in bed and three months in a rehabilitation centre, the tuberculosis cleared. Binks began the 1955 season playing with Leeds. His steady reliable performances brought selection with the Yorkshire Colts and this led to the Yorkshire committee's decision to give him an extended trial.

Mrs. S. Hanisworth, a keen Yorkshire cricket supporter and head of the firm of Fenner's in Hull, offered him a winter post in the Time-study and Production Control department. He still works with this firm and, of course, there was no difficulty when in 1962 M.C.C. asked Binks to fly to Pakistan as a replacement for the injured Murray, nor in 1964 when he was invited to tour India.

On this tour he played in his only two Tests to date. In the first at Bombay he opened the second-innings with his former Yorkshire colleague, Brian Bolus and in a stay of three and a half hours scored 55 in a first-wicket stand of 125 -- the first such partnership of the tour.

"But," says Jimmy frankly, "I kept wicket worse than at any time in my life. In the first Test I missed stumping Borde and in the second Test, although I took five catches, I missed several chances I should have taken." In his quiet, pleasingly modest way, as he puts it, "I had my chance and did not grasp it."

Cricketers generally are surprised that Binks has not again found favour with the selectors and this, allowing for the fact that they gave preference to the batsman-wicketkeeper. The majority of the 6,385 runs scored by Binks have been made when Yorkshire badly needed them. When the pressure has been on, when a night-watchman has been required or a batsman needed to shut up an end, few tail-enders have proved more reliable. His highest score is 95 against Middlesex at Lord's in 1964.

In 1960, Binks established a new record for Yorkshire with 108 victims in the season, 97 caught, 11 stumped. As a wicket-keeper Binks would undoubtedly have played in more representative games had he been more noisy and flamboyant, more of a showman. The Yorkshire public in 1967 rewarded his reliable efficiency with a benefit of £5,351. The compliment about being little noticed is that there can be no mistakes.

© John Wisden & Co