James Rainey Munroe Mackay was of Scottish extraction and born at Armidale on September 9.
He grew to become a "strong sinewy cornstalk, close upon 6ft", and The Sydney Referee described him as having, "... the mind of a man with whom it is impossible to quarrel, a charming disposition, and was as wide-visioned and tolerant as any man his years I ever met. 'Sunny Jim' was the admirable appellation given him by his mates of the club and field. And it fitted him perfectly."
Sunny Jim was the only Uralla resident ever to go on to international fame, and his prolific scoring as a batsman rivalled that of the young Donald Bradman some 25 years later.
His cricketing career began in 1895 with the Salisbury team (Salisbury Court) when he was aged 15. He scored seven centuries in his first two seasons.
When he joined the Uralla team in 1897, he was competing in the New England competition and had to face the best bowlers in the region.
He remained undaunted, however, and went on to amass 12 centuries and three double centuries in three seasons.
In his final season with the Uralla club, he took to the crease five times and was 104 not out, 128 not out, 108 not out, 200 not out, and 65 not out - a total of 605 not out.
In the final country game of 1900-01, Sunny Jim knocked up an innings of 106.
Tales of his astonishing scoring were published in Sydney and as far away as England.
He moved to Sydney and played for the Burwood Club (now Western Suburbs), where he scored 14 first grade centuries.
By 1905 his Burwood average was 108, and for NSW 113 and pundits were bitterly disappointed when he was not selected in the Australian team to go "home" to play against England.
In 1906, he accepted an offer of a managerial position at a diamond mine in South Africa, and after one stellar season playing for Transvaal he was labelled as the best batsman in the world, with talk of him being selected in the South African team to go to England.
Then, one night on May 13, 1907, Mackay was knocked down by a motorcycle while walking down the street with a friend.
He remained concussed and unconscious for about 10 days in a Johannesburg hospital. His recovery was slow and painful with his right eye permanently knocked out of focus. It was a career ending injury for the 26-year-old batsman.
He did return to Australia and tried to play cricket for Burwood, but his wonderful talent was lost forever.
He married Catherine Crawford in 1913, and the couple set up a sheep station about 30 miles south-west of Cunnamulla in Queensland.
Sunny Jim eventually moved back to the Uralla area and his cheerful disposition remained until his death in 1953. Buried in Walcha cemetery, his gravestone makes no reference to the cricketer and gentleman beyond compare he surely was.
"Sunny" Jim Mackay of Uralla ... Best Batsman in the World" is a new, permanent exhibition at McCrossin's Mill Museum, Uralla, to be officially opened by Walkley Award winning Sydney journalist and novelist Malcolm Knox at a celebratory event and dinner on Saturday, March 21.
It is a small-scale exhibition inspired by Philip Derriman's book "True to the Blue".
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