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Cup Match Legends: Lloyd James

I have been frightened only once on a cricket field. It happened at Wellington Oval. While batting with Lloyd James, he ferociously straight drove a ball within six inches of my head as I stood as the non-striker's end. The ball left his bat like a bullet out of a gun and flashed by me. I froze and, in an instant, I realised that but by the grace of God I had been spared an awful fate.

It was ironic, for I came to appreciate this gentle giant of a man who possessed a quiet demeanour.

* * *

Name: Arthur Lloyd James

Date of birth: January 27, 1937.

Start in cricket: I played a lot of backyard cricket up in the Spice Hill/Jones Village area. We'd play with a tennis ball and use a box or a trash can for the wicket. Back then, Warwick clubs would play Somerset cubs in matches as well. I also played lots of cricket in elementary school at the Ord Road School.

Length of cricket career: I played my first senior match for Warwick against Hamilton Parish when I was 15 years old. I finished playing in the late Eighties.

Role on the team: I started as an opening bowler, bowling away swingers and then I'd change to off breaks.

Childhood memories within the game: My greatest memory was at the Ord Road School where I scored my first century.

Teams played for: Warwick, one year for Southampton Rangers and the St George's Cup Match team.

Nickname: None.

Favourite local match you played in: I really enjoyed playing for Warwick against Rangers. They had a really good team, so it seemed to bring out the best in me.

My biggest enemy at the time was the opposing umpire, as teams carried their own umpire with them. I remember one match against Rangers when “Rocky” Raynor was the umpire for Rangers. We made 11 runs all out. Eight of their wickets were leg-before. Today's players would have had a hard time dealing with that situation.

Two matches stand out: during a match against Clarence Parfitt at Warwick Park, I straight-drove a ball back at him really hard and he stuck out his leg. The ball thundered into his foot. He went down in pain and, of course, I walked down to check on him to see if he was OK. A Hamilton Parish fielder picked up the ball and ran me out.

The other match involved “Fiery” Clive Donald. He came up to Warwick Park with this reputation of being really quick. I can remember hitting every ball he bowled at me for a six. That was really satisfying and he didn't need to ask his captain for a second over, such were the “licks” he took that over.

Best international feat: In 1955, I played with the St George's team that played against the West Indies team that came here. They had Everton Weeks, Garfield Sobers and Collie Smith in their line-up and we beat them 111 to 109. I took three wickets for one run with my off breaks.

Favourite venue: Wellington Oval. Everything seemed to fall into place when I played there.

Favourite international player(s): I admired the West Indies' four-prong attack. Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith were good during their time.

Number one supporter(s): My mom and dad.

Pre-match routine(s): Before I played any cricket match, I took a swim on a particular South Shore beach. Four days before the game, I would start to prepare. I didn't let anything distract my focus, including women. I prepared with a table tennis ball and a golf ball to get my reflexes sharp.

Favourite dish while playing: Nothing in particular as I love food anyway.

Biggest regret in your career: I would have liked to have achieved scoring 200 runs in Cup Match in a single innings and 1,000 runs in total. I probably could have played one more year and achieved the 1,000 runs, however, I fell in love with golf. (Lloyd is proud of having qualified for the US Senior Open in 1994.)

Any superstitions: None.

Funniest thing you have seen in cricket: I really enjoyed listening to Eldon Raynor and “Scottie” (Rupert Scotland) debate each other in the changing room. Usually, everyone else ended up getting involved. On the field, I remember hitting “Cheesy” Hughes for four sixes in one over. When he had his turn to bat, he hit me for five sixes in an over.

Hobbies: Golf. I had two careers, cricket and golf. (Just as Lloyd took his cricket seriously, likewise he displayed the same diligence towards his golf game. He continued to work at his game and eventually played off scratch. As noted, Lloyd qualified for the Senior Open as a professional. His love of golf has taken him to such places as Mexico, Portugal and the Bahamas.)

A key to your success: I put everything into my game. Our neighbours would know that I was practising, as I constantly bowled deliveries at one stump and the ball would bang into the barn wall.

Advice to today's cricketers: If you want to improve and become good at your game, put everything into it. Sacrifice over and beyond the average person. Put in ten times more effort than the average person.

Motto I lived by: Take care of your body. I never drank or smoked, and practised diligently.

* * *

In closing, it is interesting to note that Lloyd James, like Cal “Bummy” Symonds, Lee Raynor and Eldon Raynor, initially had his heart set on representing Somerset in the two-day classic. He was even recruited by the legendary Alma “Champ” Hunt. Once Lloyd was not selected that first year, he figured his chances were better at the east end and the very next year made the St George's team. “I avoided “Champ Hunt” for a long time after that,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd has the distinction of being the only player to score back-to-back centuries, accomplishing this feat in 1961 (157) and 1962 (173 not out). He batted in 28 Cup Match innings between 1955 and 1974, scoring a total of 988 runs at an average of 36.59.

When Janeiro Tucker surpassed his highest individual score in 2001, the match stopped momentarily, to allow Lloyd to walk on to the field of play to congratulate the Somerset player on his accomplishment. Those persons of advanced years will recall Lloyd as a cricketer who possessed a wide smile and a ferocious drive. I will never forget the force with which he executed the latter.

Mind your toes, ump: James's penchant for the straight drive is captured in this archived photograph of a match against Devonshire Rec. Anthony Edwards and Dennis Raynor, both sadly departed, are the bowler and umpire

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Published July 09, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 09, 2014 at 12:36 am)

Cup Match Legends: Lloyd James

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