James Michael Parks (born 21 October 1931, in Haywards Heath, Sussex, England) is an English former cricketer. He played in forty six Tests for England, between 1954 and 1968. In those Test, Parks scored 1,962 runs with a personal best of 108 not out, and took 103 catches and made 11 stumpings.
The cricket writer, Colin Bateman, commented “Parks was a gifted batsman and a most effective wicketkeeper”. Bateman added “although he never suggested he was in the same class as Godfrey Evans before him or Alan Knott after, Parks had safe hands and was a good stopper”.
Life and career
Parks was an attacking batsman, athletic fieldsman and a spin bowler who made his first-class debut for Sussex in 1949. By 1958, and with Sussex struggling for a reliable stopper, Parks made a successful switch to wicketkeeping.
Parks describes the unusual circumstances in which he first began keeping wicket:
“It came about by accident. I didn’t keep wicket at the start of my career. I was a specialist batsman. A couple of years after that, Sussex were playing against Essex in a Championship game at Chelmsford, when our wicketkeeper, Rupert Webb got injured. There we were in the Chelmsford dressing room before the start of play and we suddenly realised we’ve got no wicketkeeper. Robin Marlar, the Sussex captain, looked at me and said “You’re doing it”. I didn’t have any kit and so had to borrow Essex keeper Brian Taylor’s gloves.”
Prior to that, in 1954, Parks had been picked, purely as a batsman, for one Test against Pakistan at the age of 22. He made little impact and had to wait until early in 1960 to score an unbeaten century, batting at number seven, to help England gain a draw and clinch the series whilst touring the West Indies. He then remained England’s first choice wicket-keeper through to the mid 1960s. In the 1965-66 Ashes series he made 290 runs (48.33) and hit his fair share of boundaries, but a missed stumping off Peter Burge in the Second Test cost England a chance of regaining the urn.
Parks captained Sussex from 1967 to 1968, before he was succeeded by Mike Griffith. He left Sussex following the 1972 season, and joined Somerset on a three-year contract. He retired from first-class cricket in 1976. In 739 first-class matches, he scored 36,673 runs at an average of 34.76, with 51 hundreds and 213 fifties. He took 1,087 catches and made 92 stumpings. He also took 51 wickets, with a personal best of 3 for 23.
He later worked for Whitbread, and as a marketing manager for Sussex County Cricket Club. Parks has also managed an Old England cricket team for several years.