James Andrew Tomlinson
June 12, 1982, Winchester, Hampshire
Left hand bat
Left arm medium
Cricklade College, Andover. Cardiff University
James Tomlinson was a slippery left-arm swing bowler who grew into a solid performer for Hampshire in a 15-year career before he retired late in the 2016 season at 34. He made an entertaining farewell, in keeping with his reputation, recalling a nature documentary he had watched and comparing himself to the old dog at the back of the pack trying to keep up. "He had half a leg missing and an ear hanging off from what must have been years of previous battles. When he finally arrived at the scene all that was left were scraps," he wrote. "… I feel now is the right time to head back to the den." Graeme Swann, the former England spinner, suggested it might represent "the greatest retirement statement in the history of English cricket." Tomlinson's career was bedevilled by a succession of injuries - although his legs and ears remained largely intact - but when fit he reaped excellent returns and was respected on the circuit as an experienced and reliable operator who carried great threat when there was swing about
A red-ball specialist, Tomlinson was often been conspicuous by his absence, missing the whole of the 2005 season with a back problem and playing only seven first-class matches in the next two years. But he showed what was possible when, fit and firing for a whole season, he finished the 2008 campaign with 67 first-class wickets - more than any other bowler in the country - and earned his county cap.
Afterwards, - a 2011 injury aside - he was a steady performer and took over 50 first-class wickets in a season for the second time in 2013. A year later he delivered again with 47 wickets at 25.85 to help his side win promotion with the Division Two title. With a return of the one-day competition to 50-overs, Tomlinson was given another chance with the white ball and returned nine wickets at 19.66, playing seven of Hampshire's eight group matches.
An innings defeat at Merchant Taylor's against the eventual champions Middlesex in 2016, a match in which Hampshire gleaned minus 1 points after penalties, was not the end to his county career that Tomlinson deserved. But Hampshire were grateful for his services for six matches as injuries struck. He took a respectable 14 wickets at 34.5, enough to top Hampshire's bowling averages at the season's end, before suggesting to the coaching staff that it was time he called it a day.
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