Jim McConnon, the former Glamorgan and England spinner, died yesterday at his home in Altrincham, aged 80. He made 243 appearances for the Welsh county between 1950 and 1961, during which he took 799 wickets.
In only his second season of county cricket, Jim was instrumental in securing a dramatic victory for Glamorgan against the 1951 South Africans at Swansea. Together with fellow spinner Len Muncer, his fine bowling saw the Springboks collapse from 54 without loss to 83 all out as they chased a victory target of 147. In the space of just three-quarters an hour, Jim took 6-10, including a hat-trick as Glamorgan became the only county side to defeat the South Africans on their tour.
In all, Jim took 136 wickets in 1951, and this remarkable performance at St.Helen`s , saw the tall off-spinner move onto the fringe of the English team. After taking a career-best 8/36 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, Jim won selection in the Commonwealth XI for their tour to India in 1953/54. The following summer, he won two Test caps in the series with the 1954 Pakistanis, and took 3/12 in his first six overs in an England sweater.
Jim`s promising performance led to his inclusion, ahead of Jim Laker for the 1954/55 Ashes tour to Australia. However, he sustained a series of injuries whilst in Australia, and Jim had to return home early after breaking a finger.
Despite never playing again for England, Jim continued to be an effective spinner at county level, and formed a successful partnership with Don Shepherd, who had converted to spin from seam. Jim took 99 wickets in 1957 and then 113 at just 18 apiece in 1959, as well as developing into a forceful late order batsman, striking a career best 95 against Middlesex at the Arms Park in 1958.
Jim had first joined Glamorgan aged 28 after a spell as a professional footballer with Aston Villa and various Welsh League clubs.