James Morton Sims
May 13, 1903, Leyton, Essex
April 27, 1973, Canterbury, Kent, (aged 69y 349d)
Right hand Bat
Cricket lost a fine cricketer and a real character when J. M. Sims, the former Middlesex and England player, died at Canterbury on April 29. 'Simmo', as he was known to his colleagues in his playing days, will be remembered for his high standards of sportsmanship and particularly for his sense of humour and the delivery of his speech, which came out of the corner of his mouth. Jim was quite devastating on his day with his leg-break and googly - the old 'wozzler', as he called it. He used to revel on a dry, dusty pitch because he bowled his leg-break so quickly. I would compare his pace with that of Chandrasekhar, who caused so much trouble last winter in India and who has a similar dip in his flight. I played most of my career with Jim and so much of the fun which I had was contributed by him. There is a wealth of stories one could tell about him. Once against Gloucestershire he was bowling to that magnificently aggressive batsman, Charlie Barnett, and I was fielding at mid-off. Jim had not had the best of luck and the fielding had not been of a very high standard. He came up to me during one over and said out of the corner of his mouth, 'I think I'll bowl Charlie a long-hop, Denis, he might hit it down deep square-leg's throat.' This he carried out to perfection, for Charlie laid back and cracked it straight to Alec Thompson on the square-leg boundary. Unfortunately Alec, who was not renowned for his fielding, moved in too far and the ball dropped over his head and hit the fence. Jim had the sun in his eyes and could not follow the flight, so he came up to me and said 'What 'appened, Denis' I told him that regrettably Thompson had misjudged it and the ball had dropped over his head for four. After a moment's silence he muttered, 'Should have hit him on the bloody head' - and with that unforgettable smile was off to bowl the next ball. I have been at the wicket on numerous occasions with Jim, who was no mean batsman and did for a time in the early 'thirties open the innings for Middlesex. He could 'prop and cop' effectively, and when the occasion warranted he could give the ball a powerful thump. In one match at Lord's when I was going pretty well it was essential for Jim to play up the line. He beckoned me up the wicket and said, 'Don't do anything silly, Denis. I'll show 'em the maker's name all right.' As usual, it came out of the side of the mouth and, in fact, his manner of speaking was so infectious that I used to find myself talking to him in the same way. He was a great help to me throughout my career, as he was to so many other Middlesex players. Even after his retirement in 1953 he did much, as coach and scorer, for the welfare of Middlesex. One tends to forget his fine record of 1582 first-class wickets - eight times he took 100 in a season and in 1948 all ten in an innings in a festival match at Kingston - because he was such a rare and endearing character. There has been no-one quite like him in my experience. I, and many others, will miss him greatly.
Denis Compton, The Cricketer, June 1973
He was in his day a splendid leg-break and googly bowler and a more than useful batsman for Middlesex. He had been county scorer for a number of years and his death occurred while he was staying at a Canterbury hotel on the night preceding a game with Kent there. Making his debut for Middlesex in 1929, he retired from county cricket in 1952 and between those years he took 1,572 wickets at an average cost of 24.90 runs each and scored over 9,000 runs, including four centuries. He afterwards had charge of the county second eleven and served as coach till taking over the post of scorer.
Originally regarded mainly as a batsman, often opening the innings, Jim Sims developed into an all-rounder and particularly after the Second World War was relied upon chiefly for his bowling. Eight times he dismissed over 100 batsmen in a season and in 1939, with 159 victims at 20.30 runs each, he was the most prolific wicket-taker in English first-class cricket. For East against West at Kingston-upon-Thames in 1948 he enjoyed the distinction of taking all ten wickets-for 90 runs-in an innings, a feat he went close to performing 15 years earlier at Old Trafford when disposing of nine Lancashire batsmen for 92 runs. He achieved the hat-trick for Middlesex at the expense of A. Melville"s South African team at Lord"s in 1947 and in 1933 sent back three Derbyshire batsmen in the course of four balls at Chesterfield.
In his book, Cricket Prints, the late RC Robertson-Glasgow wrote: Jim Sims can unbuckle the most difficult googly in the game today. How highly this tall, lean, genial cricketer was held in the esteem of the Middlesex authorities was illustrated by their granting him two benefits in five seasons. The first in 1946 was seriously affected by rain.
He toured Australia under Percy Holmes in 1935-36 and under Gubby Allen the following winter when, though doing well in other matches, he proved costly on the hard pitches, in the two Tests for which he was called upon. He also played once each for England against South Africa, in 1935, and India, in 1936, both in England.
A humorous man, who never tired of telling stories about the game in words spoken from the side of his mouth, he was popular wherever he went. Many of them concerned his idol, Pasty Hendren. One regarding Sims was about the occasion when Harold Larwood, on a fiery pitch, was making the ball fly in a somewhat terrifying manner. Sims, unusually quiet, was awaiting his turn to bat when Hendren asked him: 'Feeling nervous, Jim?' Said Sims: 'Not exactly nervous, Pasty; just a trifle apprehensive.'
On one occasion after dismissing a capable batsman with a googly, he remarked confidentially to the nearest fieldsman: 'I'd been keeping that one warm all through the winter.'
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Batting & Fielding