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Player Profile #26: James Barker


Cricket is famous for some of its legendary brothers.

On the world stage Australia have given the game the Chappells, the Waughs, the Marshes and the Husseys.

England had the Smiths, the Bedsers and the Hollioakes.

West Indies had Dwayne and Darren Bravo.

Zimbabwe produced Grant and Andy Flower.

New Zealand had Jeff and Martin Crowe.

At a slightly less exalted level, Offley have featured the Tattersalls, the Hooks and the St Johns.

Young tyro James Barker might not be related by blood to any other Offley player (apart from his dad who has played the occasional game) but he does have a role model and big brother figure to look up to in Jamie Cummins.

This inseparable pair are more like the Trotter brothers, Del and Rodney, with JB assuming the mantle of naive innocent Rodney looking up to his streetwise older brother Del.

JB and JC

Rodney JB regards Jamie as someone he hopes to grow up to be just like - an accomplished cricketer and a man of the world with a fine taste in style and fashion, not to mention a hard-earned reputation as a man not to be messed with on the terraces.

It's fitting that the duo are currently fighting it out for the title of leading wicket-taker in 2023.

Although JB is currently studying for a degree at university, he already proudly lists the letters FOC after his name.

For the record that's Future Offley Captain, not Fucking Objectionable Child. 

Offley enjoy the service of JB on a timeshare principle with Hitchin Town.

On a Saturday JB turns out for Hitchin Fifths Fourths Thirds and regularly enjoys fresh air games where he doesn't bat or bowl and appears in the scorebook as TFC (Thanks For Coming) Barker.

In contrast on a Sunday he is one of the first names on the team sheet whenever he is available.

JB is a hard-hitting batsman for Offley who can be relied upon to carry the attack to the opposition, invariably swinging from the hip from his opening delivery.

Since making his debut in 2018 JB has racked up close to 700 runs at an average of just 18, an average that continues to move in an upward direction unlike most of his colleagues who are in terminal decline or at best plateauing out.

Or simply flat-lining.

That being said he was one of the batsmen to be dismissed without scoring in Offley's humiliating lowest ever total of 40 against Old Warden this year.

On another infamous occasion JB's hapless attempts to pull a girl ended up with the young lady in question beating him for pace and uprooting his middle stump.

A single half-century in 50 innings to date is a disappointing return for a batsman of his ability although he has the satisfaction of knowing that he reached the landmark far quicker than his contemporary Kaiz Ul-Haq.

No bowler named Barker has ever turned the ball more (or even a quarter as much) as JB.

He's a leg spinner who is never afraid to give the ball a rip, even if he does have the run up of an elderly medium pacer.

He has claimed 74 victims for Offley so far and has a career-best of 4-19 - which means he has yet to emulate the five-wicket haul that his inspiration Cummins has to his name.

It also means he has two fewer five-wicket hauls than Peter Gilkes.

Unquestionably one of the best fielders at the club, JB tears around the outfield at speeds that most of his colleagues would be hard-pressed to match behind the steering wheel.

One of the few fielders who does not represent an automatic drop whenever the ball is hit towards him, JB has already taken a number of excellent catches for the club.

Both a vital part of the club's future and an integral part of the current setup, JB lives for the day when he will be able to look his mentor and inspiration JC in the eye as cricketing equals.

Did You Know: The James Barker Band has a song called Wastin' Whiskey. In contrast no one at Offley has ever seen James Barker waste a drop of alcohol.

(173) James Barker Band - Wastin' Whiskey (Lyric Video) - YouTube


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