Jack Mercer is still the only Glamorgan bowler to have taken all ten wickets in an innings.
The stalwart swing and seam bowler achieved this feat, quite fittingly, during his Benefit Year in 1936, against Worcestershire at New Road. He returned figures of 10/51, which were a handsome reward, both for his years of loyal service to the Welsh county, and on that particular day, for keeping an immaculate length and swinging the ball lavishly in the humid atmosphere.
Jack was a larger than life character who amongst other things had spent time in Russia as a young man, before serving with the Sussex Regiment in the Great War and suffering from shellshock after spending over 48 hours semi-conscious in a crater on the front line. In later life, he was also a member of the Magic Circle.
Jack’s outstanding career as a swing bowler began with Sussex between 1919 and 1921, but he found his opportunities restricted by the presence of the legendary Maurice Tate. In 1922 Jack moved to South Wales and from 1924 until the outbreak of the Second World War, he was Glamorgan`s opening bowler. He regularly claimed over 90 wickets in a season, passed the hundred mark on six occasions, and was the first bowler to take over a thousand wickets for the Welsh county in first-class cricket. In 1926/27 he also toured India and the Far East with the MCC, hearing news of his call-up whilst in Paris attending the races at Longchamp.
Whilst these are hugely impressive statistics, it is also worth remembering that during the 1920`s in particular, Glamorgan did not have the most athletic of fielders, close to the wicket, and had Jack been supported by more agile catchers, his tally would have been even higher. His success was based on the priceless ability to swing the ball either way, and on unhelpful wickets, he often cut down on his pace and bowled off-cutters.
As a result, Jack could undertake long spells, and even when well into his forties, he was always willing to shoulder the brunt of the bowling. He was also a bold tail-end batsman, and in 1939 Jack hit Dick Howarth of Worcestershire for 31 runs in an eight ball over, with four sixes in six balls, all high into the rugby grandstand at the Arms Park ground. After the Second World War, Jack joined Northamptonshire for whom he also served as coach and scorer.
Born – Southwick, Sussex, 22nd April 1893.
Died – Westminster, 31st August 1987.
In first-class cricket – 72 v Surrey at The Oval, 1934; 10/51 v Worcestershire at New Road, 1936.