Jack Kelly, who died in Bassetlaw Hospital, Worksop, on October 11, 2008 is now recalled by statisticians for his feat of taking all ten wickets (for 50) in an innings, whilst playing for Devonshire v Berkshire at Torquay in 1961. His career in county cricket however, began in 1947, when as a 16-year old he showed exceptional promise, both as a batsman and a bowler, and was invited to Trent Bridge for net trials.
He was immediately signed on the playing staff for the 1948 season. During that summer Kelly made his Minor Counties Competition debut v Yorkshire, appropriately on the Central Avenue Ground at Worksop – although born over the border in Conisborough, he was associated with Worksop and district throughout his adult life.
Due to National Service, Kelly missed the whole of the 1949 and most of the 1950 season, so it was not until 1951 that he became a regular member of Notts Seconds, playing in Minor Counties matches. His First-Class debut came in 1953 v Cambridge University at Trent Bridge, after which he held his place in the County eleven, in the absence of Arthur Jepson. At Edgbaston he returned figures of four for 25, including the wickets of Warwickshire’s veteran batsmen, Gardner, Horner and Ord.
Given the magnitude of this feat by a young tyro, it is surprising that his off-breaks never again proved so effective in First-Class cricket. He following year he hit his first hundred for Notts, against Sussex at Trent Bridge. Rain delayed the start of the match, which was played on tricky turf only re-laid the previous winter. Notts collapsed to 65 for six. Kelly came to the crease facing a possible hat-trick but he coped well with the problems and reached an unbeaten 40 by the close.
The following morning Kelly was 79, when Notts most famous rabbit, Eddie Rowe, came in. 43 were added for the 10th wicket and Kelly made 113; the press report noted: “Kelly, calm and untroubled, fought a winning battle as he skilfully farmed the bowling.”
Despite this innings, Kelly never topped the century mark again. He certainly didn’t lack talent, but he never took top level county cricket quite seriously enough. At the close of the 1957 season he left Trent Bridge and for 1958 moved to Paignton as their pro. He qualified for Devonshire by residence and in 1961 switched to Torquay, where he had a successful summer, hitting 2,023 runs at 49.34 and taking 163 wickets at 8.36. If his performances for Devon were added, Kelly narrowly missed the famous Double of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets.
In 1963 he returned to Worksop and played for Steetley - at that time the top team in the Bassetlaw League - and represented Bassetlaw in the inter-League Cup. In 1971 he switched back to his old club Worksop and remained there for the rest of his career. He was a various times employed by the Steetley Company in their Transport Dept and by Jack Baddiley (Notts CCC Chairman) on his extensive farm.
In his 51 First-Class appearances for Notts, Kelly scored 1,303 runs at 21.36 and took 38 wickets at 48.52, his debut figures of 4-25 remained his best return.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 399