John Manners, former Hampshire batsman, becomes oldest living first-class cricketer

ESPNcricinfo staff2 Minute Read
John Manners in action for Royal Navy v Army at Lord's in 1951Getty Images

Former Hampshire batsman John Manners is now the oldest living first-class cricketer, having gone past the previous record of 103 years and 345 days on Wednesday.

Manners, a skilled batsman and competent seam bowler who is the only man alive to have played first-class cricket before the war, overtook Derbyshire's Jim Hutchinson who died in 2000 at the age of 103 years and 344 days.

Manners, who batted right-handed, was an amateur after following a family tradition of education at Dartmouth and a career in the Royal Navy, but joined the Hampshire side in August 1936, approaching his 22nd birthday.

In May 1935 at Portsmouth, he scored 20 and took 4 for 43 for the United Services in a victory over a strong Hampshire Club & Ground side, but the game that clinched his place in the Hampshire side was captaining the Royal Navy in a two-day match v the Army at Lord's in July 1936. He scored 23 & 47 not out and took the last wicket in a drawn game, his performance was watched by Colonel Heseltine, then Hampshire's President, and former player, who recommended John to his county.

Manners then made 81 on debut, just 19 runs away from being the only Hampshire player to score a century in their opening first-class appearance, and he continued to total 212 first-class runs in his first fortnight at the Club. However, there would be no more county cricket in the next three seasons as Naval duty called, after which the war intervened.

He remained in the Royal Navy after the war ended and played regularly for their side and the Combined Services, including in May 1947, a two-day match at Portsmouth alongside his brother, against a Hampshire side that was much changed from that of 11 years previously.

Despite the end of his county career, Manners would play a further 12 matches designated as first-class between August 1948 and June 1953. He continued to play in non-first-class matches for the Free Foresters, the Forty Club and MCC and in the mid-1960s, and even in 1979 at the age of 63, appeared for Wiltshire Queries in a series of matches v Dorset Rangers.

Rod Bransgrove, Hampshire's chairman, said: Everyone involved in Hampshire Cricket, past and present, salutes John Manners for his terrific innings and hopes that he holds the record as the oldest living First Class cricketer for a very long time."