CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1938

James Parks

JAMES HORACE PARKS, whose all-round form for Sussex attracted so much attention last season, was born at Haywards Heath on May 12, 1903. Actually, he never played cricket at school and did not take up the game seriously until reaching the age of sixteen. When, after the War, sport again came into its own, Parks, at the instance of his father, joined the Haywards Heath Club, who had advertised for second-team players, and on the strength of his first-rate slip fielding he was picked for the first eleven almost immediately. Parks was given two trials by Sussex, but achieved nothing of much note until the Sussex Club and Ground side, strongly represented towards the end of the season, paid a visit to Haywards Heath. So well did Parks perform with bat and ball that he made 50 runs--the next highest score was 9--and took six wickets for 44.

That performance impressed many of those who saw it and in 1923 Parks joined the Sussex Nursery. His first outstanding success was as a bowler, and this came in 1924 as the indirect result of the choice of Arthur Gilligan and Maurice Tate to play for England. It was the third appearance of Parks in the county eleven and given, for the first time, the opportunity of bowling with the new ball, he took seven wickets for 17 runs in Leicestershire's second innings at Horsham and paved the way to a victory for Sussex by ten wickets. At the time, the regular Sussex opening bowlers were engaged in dismissing South Africa at Edgbaston for 30 runs.

In developing his batting, Parks owed a lot to Albert Relf, but bowling came naturally to him and he found himself able early in his career to swing the ball with little apparent effort. During his early days in the Sussex team, his safe fielding proved a big asset to him. In 1929, Parks and Bowley set up a new Sussex first-wicket record by scoring 368 in three hours against Gloucestershire at Hove, Parks' share of the runs being 110. Not until 1934, however, did he take a place among the leading all-rounders. In the following summer, he scored 1,633 runs and took 103 wickets, and in 1937, when completing the Cricketers' Double for the second time, he obtained 3,003 runs, averaging nearly 51, and 101 wickets, at an average of 25.83. No other cricketer has scored more than 3,000 runs and taken over 100 wickets in a season.

Consistency is his forte; he rarely puts together huge innings, his highest being 197 against Kent at Hastings in 1936. He has represented Players v. Gentlemen at Lord's, toured Australasia with M. C. C. in 1935-36 and appeared for England in the first Test Match of the 1937 series with New Zealand. A little below medium-height and sturdily built, Parks is among the best exponents of the cut. He is also particularly strong in off-side strokes, scores many runs by skilful placing of the ball and is eminently sound in defence. Normally a steady opening batsman, he can, when the occasion demands, force the game well. As a bowler on the slow side of medium-pace, he cuts the ball rather than spins it.

© John Wisden & Co