Jimmy Maxwell was a hard-hitting middle-order batter and change bowler who joined Glamorgan after a brief first-class career with Somerset during the early 1900s. He met with decent success for the Welsh county, claiming 179 wickets at just 14 runs apiece and hitting three centuries, besides being a regular in the Swansea side.
Sadly, his playing career came to an abrupt end after being badly injured whilst on active service in the Middle East with the Mountain Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. Born and educated in Taunton, the son a local draper made his debut for his native county against Warwickshire in May 1906 playing initially as a tail-end batrer and hostile fast bowler.
Despite some promising spells with his fast-medium bowling, Jimmy was not offered professional terms and accepted a short-term professional position with New Brighton. His success with bat and ball in the Lancashire Leagues led to a lucrative offer the next year from Swansea CC and he moved to South Wales.
Jimmy soon made an impact with in local cricket and his success with the St. Helen’s club saw his inclusion in the Players of Glamorgan side which met the county’s Gentlemen at the Arms Park in June 1907. His success also prompted a brief recall by Somerset in 1908, with Jimmy included for their Northern tour, with games against Lancashire at Liverpool and Yorkshire at Dewsbury. He claimed nine wickets in the match at Liverpool but went wicketless at Dewsbury, and failed to secure a contract with Somerset for 1909.
Swansea welcomed him back with open arms and with the prospect of also playing for Glamorgan, he set down roots in South Wales and opened a sports outfitters in Swansea. Jimmy made his Glamorgan debut in June 1909, taking 4/28 against Monmouthshire at Newport and during an impressive season, he also returned the remarkable figures of 6/6 from 5.5 overs in the game against Devon at the Arms Park, as well as 7/43 against Wiltshire at the same ground.
These performances also won him a place in the South Wales attack for the game against the 1909 Australians at the Arms Park. By this time, Jimmy had also developed into a capable batsman and in 1910 saw he made 90 against Carmarthenshire at his adopted home at St. Helen’s, as well as 108 against Surrey 2nd XI at Neath as he moved up Glamorgan’s batting order.
1911 saw Jimmy continue to enjoy much success with the ball with a haul of 6/29 against Monmouthshire, once again at Swansea, as well as match hauls of 13/64 against Carmarthenshire at St. Helen’s and 13/139 against Buckinghamshire at Neath. However, Jimmy’s greatest all-round performance came during the nine-wicket victory against Kent 2nd XI at Bromley in 1913 where he made an unbeaten 113 and returned match figures of 10/94 as Glamorgan recorded a comprehensive nine-wicket victory.
Local reporters described his innings as “containing a range of carefree and well-struck drives to all parts of the ground. The crispness of his hitting, especially off the front foot was a feature of his fine innings”. His bowling feats – although covered in less analytical detail – were referred to as “probing and penetrative, with his sharp movement off the pitch being too good for the homesters.”
Perhaps the best measure of Jimmy’s feats at Bromley in 1913 are that only Len Muncer (1951) and Rodney Ontong (1985) have also scored a century and taken ten wickets in a first-class match in Glamorgan’s history. Whilst Jimmy continued to enjoy success with the bat and ball in 1914, it proved to be a difficult season off the field for the all-rounder.
Despite taking 6/72 against Monmouthshire and scoring 102 in the game with Essex 2nd XI, it was a summer to forget as his sports outfitters met hard times and he had to close the business. As a result, he returned to Somerset shortly after the declaration of War, before enlisting with the Royal Garrison Artillery.
The burly all-rounder had previously been a member of the West Somerset Yeomanry, so after a brief refresher course he served at a number of positions with the Mountain Battery, including postings in Cyprus, Salonika, Egypt and Palestine. However, during the latter he was wounded in the arm and leg, forcing Jimmy to return home. His wounds duly recovered but after being discharged in March 1920,
Jimmy was unable to resume his cricketing career. However, he returned to Swansea and restarted his drapery business. He met with more success but his premises were destroyed by German bombing in 1943 forcing a return to Taunton where he took over his father’s business.
MAXWELL, James (‘Jimmy’).
Born – Taunton, 13 January 1883.
Died – Taunton, 27 December 1967.
Batting and Fielding Record
Minor County Championship – 113* v Kent at Bromley, 1913 and 8/57v Buckinghamshire at The Gnoll, Neath, 1911.
Minor County Friendlies – 34 v Sussex at St. Helen’s, Swansea, 1910 and 5/26 v Sir Harry Webb’s XI at Cardiff Arms Park, 1913.