|Full name||James Charles Laker|
|Born||9 February 1922
Bradford, Yorkshire, England
|Died||23 April 1986 (aged 64)
Putney, London, England
|Bowling style||Right arm off break|
|Test debut (cap 328)||21 January 1948 v West Indies|
|Last Test||18 February 1959 v Australia|
|Domestic team information|
|5 wickets in innings||9||127|
|10 wickets in match||3||32|
|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, most famous for "Laker's match" in 1956 at Old Trafford, when he took nineteen wickets in England's victory against Australia.
Born in Frizinghall, Bradford, 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.
Laker was the first individual to take all 10 wickets in a Test match innings, ten for 53 in the Australians' second innings of the fourth 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 nine for 37 in the first innings, Laker's match bowling figures were nineteen for 90: no other bowler has taken more than seventeen wickets in a first-class match. Laker was married to an Austrian national 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. Remarkably, Laker had also taken all ten 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.
On 23 August 2009, Jim Laker, along with Jack Hobbs and Len Hutton, were inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.
Laker was brought up by his aunts in Saltaire. Before the outbreak of World War II, he was called down to the Yorkshire nets, where he impressed enough to earn approval as a batsman. War brought a temporary end to his cricketing plans, but reports began to emerge in about 1943 of an off-spinner in North Africa of whom greybeards 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. He bowled with distinction in 1947, caused the West Indies trouble in 1947/48, but was severely clobbered by Don Bradman's 1948 Australians.
On England's disastrous tour of Australia in 1958-9, Laker was one of the few England players to enhance his reputation, bowling well on unhelpful pitches.
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.
Apart from his figures in 'Laker's match', the other bowling analysis for which he will be 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'.
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.
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. 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.
|BBC Sports Personality
of the Year