James Sims

SIMS, JAMES MORTON, who died April 27, aged 68, was in his day a splendid leg-break and googly bowler and a more than useful batsman for Middlesex. He had been a county scorer for a number of years and his death occured while he was staying at a Canterbury hotel on the night preceeding 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 batsman 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 perfoming 15 years earlier at Old Trafford when disposing of nine Lancashire batsman for 92 runs. He achieved the hat-trick for Middlesex at the expense of A. Melville's South African team at Lords in 1947 and in 1933 sent back three Derbyshire batsmen in the course of four balls at Chestefield.

In his book, 'Cricket Prints', the late R.C. 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 Middlesex authorities was illustrated by them granting him two benefits in five seasons. The first in 1946 was seriously affected by rain.

He toured Australasia under E. R. T. Holmes in 1935-36 and under G. O. Allen the following winter when, though doing well in other matches, he proved costly on 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 humourous man, who never tired in 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, 'Patsy' 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 eactly nervous Patsy, just a trifle apprehensive.'

On one occasion when dismissing a capable batsman with a googly, he remarked confidently to the nearest fieldsman; 'I'd been keeping that one warm all through the winter.'

Tributes to Sims included: J. M. Brearley (Middlesex Captain); 'Jim helped a lot of us young players and I suppose there is no one in the side who has not benefited from his help and advice. He was a great chap to have around and everybody will miss him terribly.'

L. E. G. Ames (Kent Secretary-Manager); 'I knew Jim for between 40 and 50 years and toured with him in Australia. I would say that he was one of the great characters of the game.'

© John Wisden & Co