Jack Bancroft was the younger brother of Billy Bancroft and also played rugby for Swansea and Wales, besides appearing in Minor County and first-class cricket for Glamorgan. For much of his career, Jack remained in the shadows of his ebullient elder brother, but with his straight-forward and no-nonsense play, Jack enjoyed a more productive international rugby career for Wales, with 88 points compared with Billy’s 60: something in later years which Jack reveled in reminding people about!
The Swansea full-back played 18 times for Wales, besides captaining the side against Ireland in 1912, with his final international appearance coming in March 1914 against France, fittingly on his home turf at St. Helen’s, Swansea.
By this time, Jack had a string of Minor County appearances to his name for Glamorgan, having succeeded Dan Thissen to the role of Swansea’s first choice wicket-keeper. His agile glovework resulted in an appearance during 1908 for Glamorgan, alongside his illustrious brother against Monmouthshire at Newport. He made seven appearances the following summer, during which the lower-order batsman posted a career-best 40 against Monmouthshire at the Arms Park.
From 1911 Jack concentrated on his work at a copper yard in Swansea, and handed over the gloves to his Swansea colleague Edgar Billings. Jack remained however one of the best wicket-keepers in club cricket in South Wales and in 1922, at the age of 43, he answered a call from the Glamorgan selectors by appearing in nine County Championship games, largely during May and June when others were unavailable. His first-class debut came at Old Trafford against Lancashire during which Jack conceded 27 byes. He let through a further 29 byes in the next match against Yorkshire at the Arms Park, but with others unavailable, he remained behind the stumps.
His final Championship appearance came in July 1922 against Lancashire on his home turf at St. Helen’s. Jack continued to play for Swansea during the 1920s by which time he had switched careers and was now the jovial landlord of the York Hotel.
Born – Swansea, 18th October, 1879.
Died – Swansea, 7th January, 1942.
Career-bests for Glamorgan:
In Minor County cricket – 40 v Monmouthshire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1909.
In First-class cricket – 5* v Sussex at Hove, 1922.