Almanac Cricket: A Final Session with Barry Jarman


Barry Jarman reading Barry Nicholls’ biography of him. Image courtesy of SAToday



The rhythm of cricket is kept by the wicketkeeper and for two-dozen years Barry Jarman was like a metronome behind the stumps – taking and distributing over and again. But he took and distributed more than the ball and his passing has turned a light off for those who love the language and stories of the summer game.


He still looked like an old tent boxer when I visited him a few weeks ago. The first Covid-19 restrictions had been lifted allowing a visit to his Adelaide home. We had tried speaking on the phone, but he was frustrated because his hearing was going and preferred to chat in person.


‘Are we allowed to shake hands?’ he asked as he stood on the doorstep grinning. Inside his wife Gaynor (they met in primary school) was doing a jigsaw puzzle and waved through the glass door of her dining room mini-hub.


The social distancing turned out to be a bonus because as we gave each other space in the backroom, Jarman used it to demonstrate how he kept to Neil Hawke. He was on his feet and pointing down the pitch, explaining how he watched Hawke’s final stride carefully because the alignment of his hips would tip him off to where it was headed. He then shuffled to the leg side, gloved an imaginary delivery and beamed at me – there was eternal youth in his watery 84-year-old eyes.


‘See what I mean about that?’ he said.


When Garry Sobers bowled spin for South Australia, he had a lot of success from the Cathedral end. Aside from having the ‘best wrong’un I saw’, Jarman said batsmen had extra trouble picking it because the bowler’s hand would be just above the sight screen when he delivered the ball and so lost in the blur of the distant Moreton Bay Figs. From his angle squatting down, the keeper had a clear view and knew what was coming.


Sobers and Jarman roomed together and were firm friends. In the foreword to Barry Nicholls biography of Jarman For Those Who Wait, Sobers describes it as a ‘pity’ that his mate didn’t play more than 19 Test matches.


‘For perhaps every other Test team would have been glad for someone like Barry behind the stumps to either spin or pace.’


Ashley Mallett caused a murmur at the book launch when he said in his experience Jarman was a superior keeper to Rod Marsh. Mallett described Jarman as being ‘like a father’ to he and Terry Jenner when the spinning pair came to Adelaide from Perth in the mid-60s. Mallett was an introvert and was sitting in the rooms after one match listening to the post-match rumble when Jarman spotted him.


‘What about you – why don’t you shut up, you rowdy bastard.’ The nickname stuck along with dozens of others that Jarman distributed. It was old school where team building was rough-hewn.


When Ian Chappell was fielding in the slips in his first season for South Australia he appealed loudly after a batsman was rapped on the pads by a ball from Donn Robins. Jarman didn’t share his enthusiasm for a delivery he saw pitch outside the leg stump.


“I asked him ‘did you think that was out?’ and he said ‘no’. So, I said to him ‘don’t you ever do that again if I am here. You can please yourself when you are on your own but not when I am here.’”


Eric ‘Fritz’ Freeman saw a different discipline applied on the 1968 Ashes tour when Jarman refused to let the Victorian players go out on their own one evening.


‘When you have 17 players in a touring party you can get little divisions at times and BJ was the one who when we went out for a drink, we went out in groups not just one or two guys.


‘Barry was also the one that would sit down with you and explain English conditions, how different they were from Australia for fast bowlers and he would be in your ear. You could sit for half an hour and learn so much from him. I am indebted to him for my career.’


It was on that tour that Jarman captained Australia, replacing the injured Bill Lawry for the fourth Test at Leeds.


‘I was a very boring captain,’ he roared at the memory ‘but we drew and retained the Ashes, so I did my job.’


He continued doing his job after retiring, setting up a SACA underage competition, coaching, selecting and mentoring. Later he was an international referee.


In between, he ran a sports store and part of the ritual of being selected for South Australia involved a visit to Rowe and Jarman to collect your kit. Young players were sometimes assisted by a young man who worked there named Barry Rees who Jarman nicknamed ‘Nugget’ after his favourite player Keith Miller.


‘Nugget’ came to the change-rooms with his boss and never really left. He has been a fixture of state and national elevens for six decades and the rooms are now named in his honour.


The camaraderie that Jarman curated continued after his playing days ended. His houseboat on the Murray River was an annual retreat for Norm O’Neill, Lindsay Kline, Ray Steele and their families. Once the South Australian side was playing a pre-season match in the Riverland and after play, the evening was catered by Jarman and ‘Nugget’ on the boat.


At the Centenary Test in 1977, every living English and Australian player was invited to Melbourne and they indulged themselves at a black-tie dinner listening to speeches and reminiscing. Afterward the old boys wanted to continue, and the venue was Jarman’s room where the egos of a century packed in shoulder to shoulder.


In some opinion there is a regret about his limited Test career; that Wally Grout had got the job ahead of him and was immovable. Jarman said that of course he would have liked to wear the baggy green more often but acknowledged the greatness of the Queenslander and lived without regret. Why would he bemoan a career that allowed him to play with Sobers, discuss Bodyline with Don Bradman and sit in the royal box at Lord’s with the Queen talking horse racing?


One his most memorable catches was a screaming take down the leg side to dismiss Doug Walters. That was in 1965-66 – his most productive season with the bat when he scored 590 runs including 196 against New South Wales. That recent morning in his backroom he explained the two reasons why he had prospered that year. The first was that he decided to play more back and across and the second was that he resisted talking to the opposition players. As hard as they tried, they couldn’t get a word out of him.


“They knew I would chat to them and might lose concentration, so I gave it up., They used to say, ‘Hello Barry, how is Gaynor?” and I gave them nothing. Maybe, I should have shut my mouth more and I might have made a few more runs.”


For those who cherish hearing about the sport from those who played it and loved it, we are grateful he didn’t.



For further articles about Barry Jarman, especially Barry Nicholls’ biography of him, CLICK HERE.



For more stories by Mike Sexton CLICK HERE.



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


About Michael Sexton

Michael Sexton is a freelance journo in SA. His scribblings include "The Summer of Barry", "Chappell's Last Stand" and the biography of Neil Sachse.


  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Wonderful tribute Mike, fantastic that you got to catch up with him so recently. Love the story of him telling off the young 1st slip fielder, bet that didn’t happen too often in Ian Chappell’s career.

    Vale BN Jarman.

  2. James Lang says

    Some fine work Mike. Sad to see the passing of a South Australian sporting icon

  3. Neil J Smith says

    Nice work Mike. Very timely. Pity you won’t get the chance to ask him about his nickname, “Clancy”. I’ll explain next time I see you. It’s a classic

  4. Wonderful tribute to a fine man and keeper. Grout was a jockey’s build while Jarman was more stocky. Better keeper than Rod Marsh but not as good a bat. Never saw one pitched up outside off that he didn’t want to whack through cover.

  5. This is a beautiful tribute, Mike. You are very fortunate to have spent that time with him.
    It sounds like he was a wonderful fellow.

    RIP Barry Jarman

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    He’d be pleased with what you’ve had to say here Mike. Yet another SA Great.

    A quote from “Chappelli”:

    “There are some wicketkeepers who appeal for almost anything… Barry definitely wasn’t one of those types”

  7. Paul Nankivell says

    Barry Jarman ( and David Rowe) brought in new cricket boots that were a boon to fast bowlers. They were lighter and a broader platform with more even sprig distribution. They could handle the toe guard (for the draggers) and far more comfortable than the higher sided heavy heeled clodhoppers. It was a great shop in which to buy gear. Barry loved the customers and it was fully reciprocated. He knew every club and the players and committee people. He followed schoolboy cricket. Barry made everyone at ease and was a thoughtful listener. He made a great contribution to cricket at all level. RIP with gloves on Barry

  8. Ron Corso says

    When I was in Primary school he would come out and umpire our Friday afternoon games as well as give talks on cricket. We idolized him, super hero and even as young lads we understood why he didn’t represent Australia more often

  9. Rulebook says

    Barry was my 1st ever cricket coach at Burnside Primary School he was v much re old school let’s say 1 youngster wasn’t switched on,Barry certainly enforced in a entertaining manner re the importance of walking in with the bowler the kid didn’t forget and was more attentive from then on, another fantastic article from,Mike Sexton thank you

  10. Thanks Mike.

    In Queensland we were somewhat more focused on Wally Grout, or the legacy of Wally Grout as it was by the time I started to learn about cricket. Barry Jarman was one of those names we heard but didn’t know much about.

    However, when my parents moved to SA in the early 80s and all things SA were made more familiar by my visits from Up North, Barry Jarman’s name was prominent. Like a KG Cunningham, a Neil Kerley and others. Everyone knew Rowe and Jarman’s and people from up the bush (where we were) would ‘go to town to get a new cricket bat’.

    What a wonderful opportunity to hear his stories. Did you know it would be your last get-together?

    Thanks again for this fine story.

  11. roger lowrey says

    Great contribution Mike.

    What a real buzz it must have been to talk to him. And that line about watching Neil Hawke’s hips is a serious clue into the perceptiveness of a top quality keeper.


  12. Daryl Schramm says

    Thank you so much for writing and posting about this final session Mike. Just reading it it sounds like Jar all over. I consider myself as being extremely fortunate to have heard a lot of stories and received a lot of learnings about cricket and life from BNJ over many years. No doubt there are many many hundreds of others as well. A very sad time for all his very fine family and many friends throughout the world.

  13. Grant Humphries says

    Great read and tribute to Jar. Still recall as a young fella going into Rowe and Jarman in Grenfell Street and buying my cricket gear and being served by Jar and Nugg
    As a junior footy player coming from the country always in awe looking up to the Barry Jarman Stand at Woodville oval.
    RIP Jar

  14. Beyond all other sports are the joys of cricketers sharing stories and BNJ was as great as any. Thanks for this Mike.

  15. Erin Jarman says

    Fine words. Dad would be chuffed : )

  16. Peter Crossing says

    Terrific story Michael.
    Barry Jarman – a great man of cricket. Player, administrator and raconteur. Mentor to many. Could relate so well to so many people from diverse backgrounds. The old and the young, country and city, cross-town and local neighborhood, the players and those from beyond the boundary. And always the beaming grin.

  17. Rob O'Shannassy says

    Well said Michael
    Fond memories during playing days and after, but those earlier days when going to Adelaide Boys’ High School, it was so convenient after school just to wander a little further down Grenfell St for a quick visit to the old store. Not to buy, just to browse, pick up a few bats, but really hoping Barry would have a chat and he usually did if not busy. Always a friendly smile and when the occasion did come to make a purchase, hope that it would be Barry that served you. Occasionally, privileged to go out the back to catch up with Swan and experience the unmistakable smell of Nugget’s linseed oil.

  18. Stan the Man says

    A true gentleman and Champion. Thats why they named the grandstand in his honour at Woodville oval. I remember his coaching clinics + Sobers @ Woodville High. Thank you.

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