Jim Laker

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Jim Laker
File:Laker at Old Trafford.jpg
Jim Laker leaves the field after taking 19 for 90 at Old Trafford in 1956
Personal information
Full name James Charles Laker
Born (1922-02-09)9 February 1922
Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died 23 April 1986(1986-04-23) (aged 64)
Putney, London, England
Batting style Right-handed
Bowling style Right arm off break
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 328) 21 January 1948 v West Indies
Last Test 18 February 1959 v Australia
Domestic team information
Years Team
1962–1964 Essex
1946–1959 Surrey
1951–1952 Auckland
Career statistics
Competition Test First-class
Matches 46 450
Runs scored 676 7,304
Batting average 14.08 16.60
100s/50s 0/2 2/18
Top score 63 113
Balls bowled 12,027 101,370
Wickets 193 1,944
Bowling average 21.24 18.41
5 wickets in innings 9 127
10 wickets in match 3 32
Best bowling 10/53 10/53
Catches/stumpings 12/– 270/–
Source: CricketArchive, 7 January 2009

James "Jim" Charles Laker (9 February 1922 – 23 April 1986) was a cricketer who played for England in the 1950s, known for "Laker's match" in 1956 at Old Trafford, Manchester, when he took nineteen wickets in England's victory against Australia. He played 46 Test matches between 1948 and 1959, taking 193 wickets with a bowling average of 21.24; in all first-class matches he took 1,944 wickets at 18.41.

Born in Frizinghall, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, he was known as an elegant off-spin bowler. He consistently performed well against Australian cricket teams, and formed a successful partnership with Tony Lock, a left-arm orthodox spinner. He was also part of the Surrey side that dominated the county championship with seven consecutive titles from 1952 to 1958. He was selected as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1952.

Family and early career

Laker was brought up by his aunts in Saltaire. Before the outbreak of World War II, he was called down to the Yorkshire County Cricket Club nets, where his performance was good enough to be offered a place as a batsman. War brought a break to his cricketing career, but reports began to emerge in about 1943 of an off-spinner in North Africa of whom people said, "You can hear the ball buzz as he lets it go."

After the war, Laker settled on the outskirts of London, and was recommended to Surrey. After Yorkshire granted permission, he was registered at the Oval, meaning he never played for his native county.

International career

Laker bowled well at county level in 1947, and was successful against the West Indies in 1947/48, taking 7 wickets for 103 runs in the first innings of the 1st Test,[1] making the 28th Englishman to take 5 wickets on Test debut. However, he was severely punished by Don Bradman's 1948 Australians.

On England's disastrous tour of Australia in 1958-59, Laker was one of the few England players to enhance his reputation, bowling well on unhelpful pitches.

Apart from his figures in 'Laker's match', the other bowling performance for which he is remembered is his 8 wickets for 2 runs in an innings in a Test Trial at Bradford in 1950, playing for England against 'The Rest'.

Laker's match

Laker was the first player to take all 10 wickets in a Test match innings, ten for 53 in the Australians' 2nd innings of the 4th Ashes Test at Old Trafford in 1956 (the only other bowler to take all 10 wickets is Anil Kumble of India in 1999). Having also taken 9 for 37 in the first innings, Laker's match bowling figures were 19 for 90: no other bowler has taken more than seventeen wickets in a first-class match.[2] Laker was married to an Austrian who did not know much about cricket. On the day of his achievement when he arrived home, his wife asked him, "Jim, did you do something good today?" after she had taken hundreds of congratulatory telephone calls.[3] Remarkably, Laker had also taken all 10 wickets in an innings for Surrey against the same Australians earlier in the season, the first time a bowler had taken all ten against the Australians since Ted Barratt did so in 1878.[4]

Laker's effort was part of a record-breaking performance during the 1956 Ashes series: Laker's 46 wickets established a record for a 5-Test Ashes series which remains unbroken. It led to him being awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award in 1956, the first cricketer to win the award.

Laker in the 1956 Ashes series[5]
No. Venue 1st Inns
2nd Inns
Aggregate Match Result
Wkts Runs
1 Trent Bridge 29.1–11–58–4 30.0–19–29–2 6 87 Match drawn
2 Lord's 29.1–10–47–3 7–3–17–0 3 64 Australia won by 185 runs
3 Headingley 29–10–58–5 41.3–21–55–6 11 113 England won by inns & 42 runs
4 Old Trafford 16.4–4–37–9 51.2–23–53–10 19 90 England won by inns & 170 runs
5 The Oval 32–12–80–4 18–14–8–3 7 87 Match drawn
Total 46 441 ave. 9.60, 4 5-wkt innings, 2 10-wkt matches

Post retirement

The publication in 1960 of his ghost-written autobiography, containing severe criticism of his Surrey and England captain Peter May, resulted in his losing honorary memberships of MCC and Surrey. Although these were both eventually restored, he never played for either Surrey or England again.

After his departure from the Surrey team, Laker played matches for Essex from 1962–65, but was not as good as earlier in his career.

In later years Laker was a highly regarded cricket commentator for BBC television. His habit of dropping the final "g" when pronouncing words ending in "ing" attracted much affectionate mimicry. "Wry, dry, laconic, he thought about cricket with a deep intensity and a splendidly ironic point of view," wrote John Arlott.[6] Laker died in Putney, London, and was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium. His ashes were scattered at the Oval cricket ground.

A residential street in the Fernhill area of Shipley is named Jim Laker Place, after him.

On 23 August 2009, Jim Laker, along with Jack Hobbs and Len Hutton, was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.[7]


  1. "1st Test: West Indies v England at Bridgetown, Jan 21–26, 1948". espncricinfo. Retrieved 13 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 18 wickets in a match was achieved by William Lillywhite for eleven Players against sixteen Gentlemen at Lord's in 1837, and by Henry Arkwright for MCC against Kent in a 12-a-side match at Canterbury in 1861, but seventeen is the most otherwise recorded in an eleven-a-side match. The previous best bowling in a Test match was achieved by Sydney Barnes, who took 17 wickets for England against South Africa in December 1913.
  3. Steen, Rob (30 July 2006). "Heroes & villains". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. David Lemmon, The History of Surrey County Cricket Club, Christopher Helm, 1989, ISBN 0-7470-2010-8, p245
  5. "Cricinfo statsguru". Stats.espncricinfo.com. Retrieved 8 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Arlott, John (24 April 2008). "From the Vault: Arlott on Laker". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Hutton, Hobbs and Laker inducted into ICC Cricket Hall of Fame". 23 August 2009. Retrieved 8 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Gordon Pirie
BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Succeeded by
Dai Rees