In May 1921 `Jack` Nash, a stalwart member of Glamorgan`s Minor County side, appeared in Glamorgan’s inaugural first-class fixture against Sussex at Cardiff and, in so doing, became – at 47 years and 271 days – the oldest person to make their debut in the County Championship.
Despite his grey hairs, the veteran off-cutter came close to taking all ten in an innings in May 1922 as he took 9/93 against Sussex at St. Helen’s and, for the second time in his county career was deprived by his spin partner, Harry Creber, of claiming all ten having also had one of the Oxford Harlequins batsmen caught on the boundary’s edge by Norman Riches at the Arms Park in 1908 as the off-cutter claimed the other nine wickets for just 33 runs in a career-best performance.
Jack’s feat at Swansea in 1922 could not conjure up a Glamorgan victory as Sussex recorded an innings victory. It also came in his final season of county cricket as he announced his retirement at the end of what was, by his own high standards, a disappointing summer with just 42 wickets at 28 runs apiece, compared with 91 at an average of 18 during the county’s maiden Championship season, more than twice as many taken by his colleagues. Amongst his returns that summer were figures of 6/37 against Leicestershire at Cardiff, 6/66 against Worcestershire at Kidderminster, plus 7/34 and 8/82 in the return game at Swansea.
Throughout his outstanding career, Jack had shouldered the brunt of the bowling with a smile on his face, delivering seam-up with the new ball before switching to slower cutters and bowling in tandem with Harry Creber, with their subtle wiles being one of the factors behind Glamorgan’s success as a Minor County and their elevation to the first-class ranks.
Jack had few pretensions as a batsman and was a tail-ender for most of his county career, but he make a hundred once in his career, albeit in a light-hearted game in the local leagues during 1908 for Cardiff Thistles against Penarth Wednesdays.
Jack had learnt his cricket in Kent before joining Cardiff CC in 1900, with his duties as the club’s professional, including tending the wicket at the Arms Park and assisting with the training programme undertaken by the burly Cardiff rugby players.
Jack duly played for Glamorgan against the MCC at Cardiff in 1900 and 1901, as well as the South Africans in the latter summer, before making his Minor County Championship debut during the match with Wiltshire, again at the Arms Park, in 1902. He opened the bowling with Sam Lowe and marked his debut with five-wicket haul, before claiming 6/56 and 6/42 against Surrey 2nd XI in the games at The Oval and Swansea.
Jack subsequently became a regular in the Glamorgan line-up and returned some outstanding match figures during 1903 at the Arms Park, including 10/94 against the MCC and 12/77 against Berkshire. Jack also featured in the South Wales teams which met the 1905 Australians, the 1906 West Indians and the 1909 Australians at Cardiff, with the proud groundsman spending many long hours in preparing a pristine surface for these showcase games.
His most prolific summer was 1910 when he claimed, in all games for Glamorgan, 93 wickets with 11 five-fors and 4 ten-wicket hauls, with his finest performance of the year again coming on his home turf as he took 7/74 and 9/56 against Somerset at the Arms Park. Once again, it was not sufficient to see Glamorgan to victory over the West Country side, and Jack was prevented by the Sweet-Escott brothers from taking all ten, as Henry caught Ernie Robson off Rhys’ off-spin!
After his wicket-laden summer, it came something of a blow both for the Cardiff club and Glamorgan when Jack accepted a lucrative offer to move to Haslingden in the Lancashire Leagues for 1911. The background to his decision to leave the Arms Park was linked to the county’s modest financial position. With the Earl of Plymouth heading a fund-raising campaign, Glamorgan were unable to guarantee a decent match fee for Jack, despite his success with the ball in 1910. With a good offer on the table from the Lancashire club, and an uncertain future for the Welsh county, Jack decided to accept Haslingden’s offer.
It proved though to be a brief spell with Haslingden as a disagreement took place during their match with Accrington in June. It was a windy day, causing the umpires to dispense with the bails. But Jack disagreed with their decision and refused to bowl, believing the laws of cricket had been compromised. A heated row took place after the match, resulting in Jack leaving their employment and returning to Wales with Neath CC.
However, Jack was back in the Lancashire Leagues the following summer as he played for Enfield, before being on the move again, as he joined the Uddingston club in Glasgow, where he stayed until 1919. With Glamorgan poised to become a first-class side, noises were made to Jack about returning to South Wales. Through a friendship with Tom Whittington, the off-cutter once again joined Neath for 1920 before re-joining Cardiff for 1921 and achieving his long held ambition of playing first-class cricket.
After retiring at the end of the 1922 season, Jack continued to play for Cardiff besides acting as groundsman at the Arms Park. However, in 1926 he joined the first-class umpires list and stood in 104 games until leaving the first-class scene in 1930.
Born – Blean, Kent, 18th September, 1873.
Died – Battersea, 6th December, 1956.
Minor County: 44 v Monmouthshire at Arms Park, 1908; 9/33 v Oxford Harlequins at Arms Park, 1908.
First-class: 28 v Derbyshire at Chesterfield, 1921; 9/93 v Sussex at Swansea, 1922.
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