Flat Jack

Published: 1986
Pages: 192
Author: Simmons, Jack with Bearshaw, Brian
Publisher: Macdonald Queen Anne Press
Rating: 3 stars

Flat Jack
Flat Jack

This is the biography of ‘Flat’ Jack Simmons a legend of Lancashire and Tasmanian cricket, a wholehearted all-rounder who must be added to that growing list of players who were unlucky not to represent England.

At the age of just 19 Simmons was offered a contract by Lancashire County Cricket Club, but turned it down to finish a draughtsman apprenticeship. It was not until the age of 27 that he finally made it back for another shot at county cricket.

Perhaps because he started so late, Simmons played on with Lancashire until the age of 48, finishing with a batting average of 22.52 and a bowling average of 27.18, and played in a total of 450 First Class matches as well as 470 One Day matches.

The Simmons family had strong connections with the Enfield Cricket Club, with both Jack’s Father and Grandfather playing for the club, and Jack Simmons being made a member when only three years of age.

When Jack Simmons was eight, Enfield employed the great West Indian Clyde Walcott as their professional, and he became a big influence on the young Simmons. Walcott would coach young players for a fee, but graciously coached Jack for free knowing his family could not afford to pay, Walcott also gave the young Simmons his first cricket bat.

The book itself is a pretty comprehensive account of Jack Simmons career, following his triumphs for Lancashire and his wholehearted efforts to gain Tasmania full membership in the Sheffield Shield (they played under a restricted programme during Simmons time there).

A much loved player the English cricketing public showed their appreciation of ‘Flat’ Jack when they made him the recipient of one of the largest Benefits, helping to raise ₤128,300.

Although not as amusing an account as I was anticipating from one of cricket’s great raconteurs, it is still an enjoyable read featuring some greats of the game such as: Clive Lloyd, Farokh Engineer and from his Tasmanian days a young David Boon.

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