A 1972 championship winner with Warwickshire, Jameson played four Tests and three ODIs for England and arguably should have played many more
Nought for one after 0.2 overs is a poor start to any innings and when, on July 27, 1974, Warwickshire hit nought for one after two balls of their championship match against Gloucestershire at Edgbaston, the visitors were chirpy.
John Dixon, a young seamer playing only his third championship game, had dismissed Neal Abberley and informed his celebrating team-mates: “I think it’s going to be my day.”
He was wrong.
Out to join John Jameson at the crease walked Rohan Kanhai – and 99.4 overs later the Gloucestershire lads were a lot less chirpy. Warwickshire were 465 for one with Jameson (240 not out) and Kanhai (213 not out) having set a new world record for a second-wicket partnership.
It was one of those days when everything went right. We just kept going and neither of us even gave a chance. We had to declare after 100 overs and it’s probably just as well.John Jameson
It remains the highest ever second-wicket stand in England and the fifth-highest in all first-class cricket. County Championship regulations at the time stated that the first innings must close after 100 overs – had that not been the case, who knows how far the two great Bears would have gone?
It is a day on which Jameson, still living locally and closely connected with the club, reflects with great fondness as a highlight of a career as a buccaneering opening batsmen which brought many very good days.
A 1972 championship winner with Warwickshire, Jameson played four Tests and three ODIs for England and arguably should have played many more. He scored more than 23,000 first-class and limited-overs runs and did so in immensely entertaining fashion. Big, strong and assertive, he was quite content to hit his first ball for four if it deserved it – or sometimes even if it didn’t.
Jameson delivered many memorable innings for the Bears’ supporters to enjoy – and high on the list was that career-best 240, in alliance with great West Indies star Kanhai, against Gloucestershire in ’74.
“It was one of those days when everything went right,” he recalled. “It was a good track and they had one or two injuries, Mike Procter and Tony Brown couldn’t bowl, and everything clicked. We just kept going and neither of us even gave a chance. We had to declare after 100 overs and it’s probably just as well.
“Some years later I found out that John Dixon, who had taken the wicket, said to the slips as Rohan came in: ‘Lads, I think it’s going to be my day today!'”
Dixon ended up with 17-2-91-1 as Jameson smote a six and 34 fours and Kanhai a six and 30 fours to rewrite the record books.
In the previous championship game, at home to Lancashire, the pair had warmed up with a stand of 231. This time they advanced all the way into record territory, on the cusp of which they received a reminder when twelfth man Steve Rouse ran out with, in time-honoured fashion, a pair of gloves.
“We saw Rousey coming out and I said to Rohan: ‘Did you order gloves?’ and he said: ‘No, did you?’ and I hadn’t. Rousey just said to us: ‘Lads you’re four short of the Warwickshire record partnership.’
“Rohan looked at me and said: ‘Singles – don’t forget, singles.’ He walked back to his end and looked up the pitch and said again: ‘Singles.’
“Then the left-armer dragged one down short and Rohan hit it out of the ground.
“I said: ‘I thought you said singles?” and he said: ‘Yes man, but you don’t bowl me s–t!’
“Rohan was a magnificent player. I learned so much from batting with him. We had one or two big stands and just watching him from the other end was a boost to your own morale. People tend not to mention him when they talk about the great players but he was definitely up there with the best. He was a fine player on any surface.”
There were times in that era when we had nine or ten internationals in the team with Lance Gibbs, David Brown and Bob Willis among the bowlers.John Jameson
The giant partnership imposed a degree of scoreboard pressure under which Gloucestershire wilted. All out for 243 (Eddie Hemmings six for 87) and 161 (Bill Blenkiron four for 18, Bob Willis four for 31) they were beaten by an innings and 61 runs inside two days, earning the century-makers a well-deserved chance to put their feet up.
“When we went out to field late in the day somebody turned one through leg-slip past Deryck Murray and Rohan and I, fielding close in, could hardly move,” said Jameson. “Eddie Hemmings had to run all the way round from square leg to collect the ball.
“It is a match that I look back on with pride and it would be lovely to watch the partnership back now on TV and see how it developed. Nowadays everything is on camera, of course, and the counties record everything themselves, but the only record I have of that day is the hospital radio broadcast.”
After that game, Jameson played on for another two seasons before retiring early, at 35, to take up a coaching appointment at Taunton School. His life in cricket was far from over as he following coaching with four years as a first-class umpire before moving to a long-term job with the MCC based at Lord’s.
For Warwickshire fans, however, he will always be recalled as a batsman whose presence at the top of the order ensured that spectators were keen not to be late for the start on the opening day. If the Bears were batting, Jameson would be worth watching from ball one.
He was also part of surely the best top order ever to represent Warwickshire – or arguably any county. When, five weeks before Gloucestershire’s visit in 1974, Worcestershire arrived at Edgbaston, they came up against a top five of J.A.Jameson, D.L.Amiss, A.I.Kallicharran, R.B.Kanhai, M.J.K.Smith. Has a better quintet ever played together in county cricket?
“It was a strong batting line-up,” said Jameson. “Teams would get the openers out and then there was Kanhai, Kallicharran and Smith with Deryck Murray still to come. There were times in that era when we had nine or ten internationals in the team with Lance Gibbs, David Brown and Bob Willis among the bowlers.
“We played really positive, enjoyable cricket. In 1971 in the championship we won nine, lost nine and drew six! Mike Smith hated draws. He would always go for a win even if it meant risking losing. We ended up with some horrific losses going for totals that were almost impossible.
“It was a formidable side and just sad that we didn’t win many trophies but the inevitable happened and people started to retire. With four overseas players in the side, when they left there was a big gap between the older players and the youngsters with no-one in the mid-to-late twenties. You always need to have one eye on the future.
“But I look back and think of myself as very lucky to have played alongside some very fine players at Warwickshire. We played some good cricket and it was great fun.”