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Jim Parks, former England wicketkeeper, dies aged 90

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Jim Parks, former England wicketkeeper, dies aged 90

Jim Parks, who played 46 Tests for England as a wicketkeeper/batsman, has died aged 90. From an august cricketing family, he scored 36,673 runs and made nearly 1,200 dismissals in first-class cricket - unimaginable numbers today - but then his father was the only cricketer ever to do the double of 3000 runs and 100 wickets in a first-class season.

Jim Parks. - GETTY IMAGES© GETTY IMAGES Jim Parks. - GETTY IMAGES

Parks was ahead of his time in that he was a specialist batsman - good enough to have been selected for one Test for England aged 22 in 1954 - who then made himself into a wicketkeeper. Sussex’s keeper Rupert Webb was injured so their captain Robin Marlar told Parks to take over, in mid-game, even though he had not done the job before and had to borrow gloves from Essex’s keeper.

Happening to be coaching in Trinidad in 1960, Parks was called into the England team as a keeper/batsman for the fifth Test there, as the current keeper Roy Swetman had made only 58 runs in the four Tests. Parks proved a match-saver, scoring 43 and an unbeaten 101, and effectively kept the job until Alan Knott emerged in the second half of the 1960s. He scored 1962 runs for England at an average of 32, very high for a wicketkeeper in those days before Adam Gilchrist revolutionised the role.

Jim Parks (back row, second from left) with the England Test team in 1964. - GETTY IMAGES© Provided by The Telegraph Jim Parks (back row, second from left) with the England Test team in 1964. - GETTY IMAGES

Ted Dexter, another of Parks’s captains at Sussex and also for England, summarised him as “the sublimely gifted, sandy-haired Jim Parks. You could pick out his style from a mile away, open-stanced with his hands high on the handle. No furrowed brow for this prince of sweet ball-strikers.” Dexter added that it was unwise to “take him on at table tennis, shove-halfpenny, darts or tiddlywinks.”

Scoring runs well into his forties, and after captaining Sussex, Parks spent his last three years at Somerset, before retiring in 1976. He then worked for Whitbread and returned to Sussex as their marketing manager.

Not only his father and uncle played first-class cricket. So did his son Bobby, who kept wicket for Hampshire, and was a better keeper but not nearly so good a batsman as his father. But then nobody was, except Les Ames of Kent, the only wicketkeeper to have scored more first-class runs than Parks.

Reference: The Telegraph: Scyld Berry

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