Obituary

James Sinclair

SINCLAIR, JAMES HENRY, who died at Yeoville on February 23rd, was born on October 16th, 1876. One of the first men who made South African cricket famous, he came into prominence during the tour of Lord Hawke's team in South Africa in the winter of 1898-99. In that tour the Englishmen played seventeen matches, of which they won fifteen and drew two. A couple of defeats at Matjesfontein and Cape Town were suffered in scratch games outside the regular programme. Little in the cricket of the South African players at that time suggested the rapid development that followed, but Sinclair met with brilliant success. Playing for South Africa at Johannesburg in February, 1899, he scored 86, and at Cape Town in April he did even better, playing a brilliant innings of 106, and taking nine wickets - six for 26 runs and three for 63. These two matches established his reputation as the best all-round man in South Africa.

Coming to England with the South African team in 1901, he fulfilled expectations as a bowler, but his batting was disappointing. Despite his great hitting powers he made only 742 runs during the tour, with an average of 19.5. On his next visit to England, with the South African team in 1904, Mr. Sinclair again bowled very well, taking 100 wickets, but it became evident that as a batsman he was little more than a big hitter. His last visit to England, was with the famous side of 1907. This time he was not wanted much as a bowler, being quite overshadowed by Schwarz, Vogler, Faulkner, and Gordon White.

In batting, too, he had quite a modest record, but on occasions his hitting was tremendous, notably in a remarkable match against Sussex at Brighton. The South Africans won by 39 runs after starting the game with a paltry score of 49. In their second innings they made 327, Sinclair hitting up 92 out of 135 in an hour and forty minutes. As a bowler Sinclair, at his best, was excellent, combining a nice variety of pace with a very high delivery.

In Test Matches against England and Australia he made 1069 runs, with an average of 23.23, and took 63 wickets at a cost of 31.68 runs each. His hundreds were 106 v. England at Cape Town in 1898-9, and 101 and 104 v. Australia, at Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively, in 1902-3. In making the last-mentioned score he hit ten 6's and eight 4's. In February, 1897, he scored 301 not out for Villagers v. Roodeport, at Johannesburg, an innings which still ranks as the record for South Africa.

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