Born On This Day: 24th January

A new series from Hampshire Cricket historian Dave Allen marks the birthdays of notable and fondly remembered Hampshire cricketers

Today we mark the birthday of two former Hampshire players, one a South African born all-rounder part of the current squad and the other a pace-bowling all-rounder born in Scotland in the 19th Century.

James Fuller was born in Cape Town on 24th January 1990. Although born in South Africa, the all-rounder started his professional cricketing career in Otago, New Zealand, before moving to England to play for Gloucestershire for five seasons and returning to Auckland, New Zealand, as an overseas player in between.

In 2016, James began catching the eye of the Middlesex fans through his strong T20 displays at the London-based county, as well as stating his claim with influential performances in the County Championship, contributing in Middlesex’s definitive wins over Hampshire and Somerset which landed them the title that summer.

Fuller featured throughout all three formats during his first full season in 2019, scoring nearly 400 runs and taking a strong amount of wickets, cementing himself in the middle order for the majority of the season.

Lower order runs were his strength as a majestic 55* at Lord's in the Royal London One-Day Cup final was the highlight.

Alexander Stuart (‘Alec’) Kennedy was one of Hampshire’s greatest cricketers. He was a pace-bowling all-rounder, who was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1891, but his family moved to Southampton when Alec was a young boy and from an early age, he would spend hours at the county ground and bowl at anyone in the nets.

On leaving school at 14, he joined the groundstaff and along with Alec Bowell, Phil Mead, Jack Newman, George Brown and Walter Livsey, formed Hampshire’s first significant group of major professionals. From 1900-1905 Hampshire were only once free from last place in the Championship, but when this fine group of players came together, they were never again in danger of that ignominy.

Kennedy was just quicker than medium pace, with swing and cut, and until Derek Shackleton arrived was Hampshire’s leading wicket-taker - his 2,549 wickets at 21.16 will keep him in second place for ever more. He made his county debut not yet 17 in July 1907, and took 80 wickets in the first four seasons.

In 1912, just into his twenties, he took 139 wickets at 17.60, including 11 in the match, as Hampshire beat the Australians. He was taken ill and recovered from an operation at the start of 1913, but still had time to take 82 wickets - one of only two seasons until 1933 when he did not reach three figures while his total of 190 wickets in 1922 is the highest season’s figure for Hampshire.

While he was principally Hampshire’s leading opening bowler, he was a capable batsman, appearing in a variety of positions. In his Hampshire career of 596 matches – second only to Phil Mead - he scored 14,925 runs at 18.51, with ten centuries and 59 half-centuries and he was also a capable fielder with 484 catches, third behind Mead and Sainsbury.

He passed 1,000 runs in four seasons, 1921-1923 & 1928, and in each of them completed the ‘double’ in all matches; on 40 occasions, he took seven or more wickets in an innings, with a best of 9-33 v Lancashire at Liverpool, a match which Hampshire lost by one run, and while no Hampshire bowler has ever taken 10 wickets in an innings for the county, Kennedy did so (10-37) for the Players v Gentlemen at the Oval in 1927, dismissing his opponents, captained by Tennyson, for just 80.

In 1922, he had match figures of 15-116 v Somerset at Bath while on three occasions, he and his partner bowled unchanged through two completed innings – once with Jaques and twice with his great partner Jack Newman; he also took three hat-tricks. In 1933, he was nominated as one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year.

Derek Shackleton is the only man who took took more wickets for Hampshire, but only four men have exceeded his career total of 2,874, yet he played in just five Test Matches for England, all on the tour to South Africa in 1922/3, where he had 31 wickets at 19.32, with a best of 5-76.

After the 1935 season he became coach at Cheltenham College, returning for a few county matches in the holidays of 1936 and later he moved to a similar coaching role in a South African school, before returning to Southampton to run a local shop; regularly visiting the county ground. He died in Southampton on 15.11.1959.

Also Today: George Greenfield (1875), Neil Johnson (2001-2002), WGLF (Geoffrey) Lowndes (1924-1935).

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