James Langridge

Thirty Years playing for Sussex

James Langridge, who was always known as Jim to distinguish him from his younger brother, John, was a great servant to Sussex cricket, playing for the county for almost thirty years from 1924 until 1953. Jim was a middle-order left handed batsman and a slow left-arm spin bowler. He played just eight Test matches for England, as he had the misfortune to be an exact contemporary of the great Yorkshire slow left-arm bowler, Hedley Verity.

Jim was born in Chailey on 10 July 1906 and brought up with his brother in the Wealden village of Newick. The brothers played for their school in county tournaments and were supported by Mr Baden-Powell, the cousin of the founder of the Boy Scout movement. Jim suffered from tuberculosis as a youngster, and when he collapsed during a game at Ringmer, Baden-Powell arranged for him to be accompanied by Ted Bowley on a recuperative holiday when the Sussex professional went on a coaching trip to New Zealand.

James Langridge at Worthing 1952

Difficult to play on damp pitches

Jim joined Sussex in 1924, although he did not command a regular place until the 1927 season. At that time, he was regarded as a technically correct left-handed batsman. He seemed to be able to play any stroke without being hurried. In his first full season for Sussex he missed 1,000 runs by just eight and his maiden century by four. He was to make amends when in the following season he reached both targets. Having established himself as a batsman in the side he began to develop his bowling although at first he tried to put too much spin on the ball, and he took few wickets. In 1929 though, he took 81 wickets at an average of 21 and at the beginning of the 1930s, his bowling seemed to be better than his batting which had not lived up to expectations. His bowling was accurate but sometimes lacked flight. At his best his bowling used variations of flight and when pitches were damp due to rain he could be very difficult to play. Between 1930 and 1937 he took 100 wickets each season, completing the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets each year. In 1932 Wisden made Jim one of its cricketers of the year and in that season he took seven Gloucestershire wickets for eight runs at Cheltenham. In 1933, 1935, 1937 and 1939 he headed the bowling averages at Sussex. In 1937 Jim scored 2,082 runs and took 102 wickets, getting to 2,000 runs with just one century.

James Langridge 1953

100 wickets a season

In 1929 though, he took 81 wickets at an average of 21 and at the beginning of the 1930s, his bowling seemed to be better than his batting which had not lived up to expectations. His bowling was accurate but sometimes lacked flight. At his best his bowling used variations of flight and when pitches were damp due to rain he could be very difficult to play. Between 1930 and 1937 he took 100 wickets each season, completing the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets each year. In 1932 Wisden made Jim one of its cricketers of the year and in that season he took seven Gloucestershire wickets for eight runs at Cheltenham. In 1933, 1935, 1937 and 1939 he headed the bowling averages at Sussex. In 1937 Jim scored 2,082 runs and took 102 wickets, getting to 2,000 runs with just one century.

Recalled for England after the war

Jim was a far better batsman than Hedley Verity but not as good a bowler, and with England’s strong batting line-up he could not get into the side. After service in the NFS during the war, Jim was the major all-rounder in the country with the death of Verity during the war. He was recalled for the Third Test against India in 1946 and selected for the 1947/47 tour of Australia under Walter Hammond’s captaincy. He was selected for the Third Test at Melbourne but had to withdraw because of injury. That effectively ended his Test career. His ambition to play against Australia in a Test Match was never to be realised.

Jim continued to play county cricket and was a mainstay of the side with his batting and bowling. In 1949 he partnered George Cox in an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 326. In 1950, Jim was appointed as captain of Sussex, only the second professional cricketer in recent times to be appointed a captain of their county, the first being H.E. Dollery of Warwickshire. The appointment was made following a stormy Sussex AGM when Hugh Bartlett resigned as captain. He led Sussex for three years before he handed over the captaincy to David Sheppard. He played on for a further year, his last match being against the Australians in 1953 and he had the consolation of scoring 46 over two hours to help prevent an Australian win.

Following retirement Jim continued to serve the county as a coach until 1959. In later years he coached at Seaford College. He died in Withdean on 10 September 1966.

Sussex Record

Batting

Matches: 622, Innings:955, NO: 142, Runs 28,894, HS: 167 Ave: 35.55

Bowling: Wickets:1416, Runs:31,634, Ave:22.34, B/B:9/34

Career Best performances

250* v Glamorgan, Hove, 1933

7-3-15-3 v Nottinghamshire, Trent Bridge, 1937

James as captain of Sussex 1951