Jim Ledbetter 1933–2023

Jim Ledbetter (photo from Mark Bentley)

Jim Ledbetter died on 10 October 2023. He was treasurer of the Association from 1990 to 1999 and returned to the committee from 2000 to 2005; he served as ACS chair from 2002 to 2004, but his term was cut short by ill health.

As treasurer, he played an important role in the purchase of the building on Radcliffe Road which served as the ACS headquarters for many years, and whose sale eventually protected the Association’s future.

Jim’s books for the ACS included five volumes of First-Class Cricket: A Complete Record, Frank Tyson and Clarrie Grimmett in the Famous Cricketers series, and Trent Bridge Test Records 1899-1996. He also wrote Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club: 100 Greats.

A tribute from Jim’s successor as chair, Douglas Miller

It was a daunting experience to join the ACS committee in 2003. At a time when Cricket Archive was still an eye about to twinkle, I was aware of being surrounded by fellow members whose depth of knowledge far exceeded my own. Moreover, clashes of personality and culture abounded as those who championed the cutting edge of technology pitted themselves against those who defended the reliability of pen and paper.

One man in particular stood apart in making me feel welcome and valued – Jim Ledbetter. Jim’s quiet and friendly manner initially concealed the fine intellectual rigour that underpinned his contribution to the Association. It was a sadness to me that our connection was short-lived. Ill health compelled him to step down as chairman within two years of taking the position.

First-Class Cricket A Complete Record 1930. Book cover shows photos of Don Bradman and Wilfred Rhodes

By this time Jim had made his mark and would continue to do so as a meticulous researcher and fine commentator, taking responsibility for the Association’s most comprehensive recording of cricket in the inter-war period. Initially in partnership with Peter Wynne-Thomas, Jim’s was the guiding hand, taking First-Class Cricket: A Complete Record from its inception under Breedon Books, who published the volume covering 1939, through eight years under the Limlow imprint, which took it back to 1931, to the final five as an ACS title. It concluded with the 1926 volume, published in 2009, as another ACS series of books featuring first-class scorecards was advancing through the 1920s to meet it.

That Jim had been able to devote so much of his time to researching and writing about cricket owed much to his decision to take comparatively early retirement from work as a lecturer in modern history at Trent Polytechnic.

Similar priorities had been set earlier in life. As a youngster – he would have been 14 at the time – he risked failing a school certificate in religious education to attend the Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in 1948. It paid off: he joined the now dwindling band of those who have witnessed a Bradman Test century.