Jim Yardley (cricketer)

Thomas James Yardley (27 October 1946 – 20 November 2010) was an English first-class cricketer. He was a left-handed batsman, an occasional wicket-keeper and an even more occasional right-arm medium pace bowler (he bowled only eight overs in first-class cricket). He played for Worcestershire and Northamptonshire between 1967 and 1982.


Yardley played football for his local team Chaddesley Corbett and was offered a trial at Wolves. West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United and two other teams were also alleged to be interested. He was offered a professional contract but turned it down in exchange for a professional cricket contract with Worcestershire.

Born in Chaddesley Corbett, Worcestershire, Yardley played regularly in that county's second eleven for two years before making his first-class debut against Nottinghamshire in August 1967; he made 3 and 4. Despite one further appearance that season, his first-class career only really took off in 1968, when he was a fixture in the first team from late July onwards, despite a modest top score of 43 not out from his 17 innings. 1969 was another mediocre season, but in 1970 Yardley really came good, making 762 first-class runs and averaging over 40.

In 1971 his average was more modest (30.45) but he nevertheless managed to pass a thousand runs for the season for the first (and only) time in his career, also hitting his maiden first-class century, 104 not out against the touring Indians at New Road. It was also in this season that Yardley claimed his only two first-class stumpings, both against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham while standing in for Gordon Wilcock who was in the team but unable to keep wicket. His two victims were both notable: former South African Test player Mike Procter and future Test umpire Barrie Meyer.

In 1972, Yardley was capped by Worcestershire, and though he had a poor year in the County Championship, averaging a mere 20, in List A cricket it was a different story: he enjoyed the most successful one-day season of his career, averaging over 35 and hitting three half-centuries, including his highest score in that form of the game, 75 not out against Warwickshire in the Benson & Hedges Cup, albeit in a match Worcestershire eventually lost by eight wickets.

1973 saw him hit two first-class hundreds, including his career best of 135 against Nottinghamshire, and despite a top score of only 66* he played an important part in the Worcestershire side which won the County Championship in 1974, contributing five fifties and a batting average close to 30 as well as 34 catches, his best in a single season. However, his List A average was a mere 13.50, and after one more season with Worcestershire, in which he passed 50 only twice in 30 first-class innings, he moved to Northamptonshire.

Yardley spent seven seasons at Northampton, and although his figures were slightly less impressive than they had been at Worcester – he reached three figures only once for his new county, scoring exactly 100 (not out) against Gloucestershire in 1980 – he still made important contributions and generally scored consistently, especially in the four seasons from 1978 to 1981 when he played in the great majority of matches and always averaged between 26 and 31; his highest season's aggregate for Northants was 803 in 1981, and in that year he made his only two List A stumpings, both against Glamorgan in the John Player League. He was capped by the county in 1978.

1982 was Yardley's final year as a first-team player. His final first-class match was against Surrey in May (he made 15 and 0), while his last List A appearance came a few weeks later in the John Player League against Kent, where he made just 1. By now he was playing in the seconds all the time, and after another year without a first-team opportunity he called it a day.

Married to Ruth Yardley (née Laight) who he later divorced, he had two daughters Alison and Elizabeth.

In 2002, twenty years after his final match, he left the country and emigrated to Canada with his 2nd wife and his son Christopher Yardley. In 2008 he was asked to write part of Imran Khan's biography.