James Patrick Maher
February 27, 1974, Innisfail, Queensland
Mahbo, Rock, Marzo
Left hand bat
Right arm medium
St Michael, Gordonvale; St Francis Xavier Primary; St Augustine College, Cairns; Nudgee College
An attractive left-hander with a clumping cover-drive, Jimmy Maher played two one-dayers for Australia in 1997-98, then seemed to fall by the wayside. But two prolific seasons for Queensland, punctuated by a successful sojourn in south Wales for Glamorgan, propelled Maher back into the one-day reckoning. He announced his return with 95 in the second match against South Africa at Centurion in 2002, and followed that up with a vital 43 not out to secure a tie at Potchefstroom.
A country boy from the far north of Queensland - he was born in Innisfail, just south of Cairns - Maher's bubbly personality made him a popular member of dressing rooms from the Gabba to the Gower. He took a while to get the hang of English pitches, but innate footwork and savvy shot-selection won through in the end. He continued that form back in Australia, slamming 174 against Victoria and 209 against South Australia on his way to becoming the first batsman to reach 1000 Pura Cup runs in 2001-02. A series of handy one-day performances won him a place as the spare batsman (and the stand-in wicketkeeper) in the 2003 World Cup-winning squad, although he appeared in only two matches. Tours to West Indies and India followed but his 26-match one-day journey ended when Brad Haddin assumed the back-up gloveman's role.
Replacing Stuart Law as Queensland's captain, Maher lost five domestic finals in a row before sealing his first win as leader with the 2005-06 Pura Cup. He marked the occasion with a career-high 223 and then let his batsmen race to an unstoppable 6 declared for 900, dedicating the victory to victims of a fierce cyclone in north Queensland the previous week. Maher's Man-of-the-Match performance guided him to a personal haul of 906 runs at 53.29 in the competition and showed that at 32 he had energy left.
The run-scoring leader in the interstate one-day tournament, Maher's stand-out limited-overs moment came with a national-record 187 from 129 deliveries against Western Australia in 2003-04 as the Bulls charged to an unmatched 405 in 50 overs. He also values highly his 108 in the limited-overs final of 2006-07, which set up Queensland's FR Cup victory at the MCG. A year later, following a subdued season, he stood down with 9,933 first-class runs for the Bulls, second behind Martin Love, and headed for the Indian Cricket League.
Cricinfo staff August 2008
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