August 1961 June 10, 2004

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History appears to have been made when Anthony Allom walked on to the field representing the Free Foresters against Oxford University last June

Nigel Paul: 6ft 7ins and could hit the ball as hard as anyone © Martin Williamson
History appears to have been made when Anthony Allom walked on to the field representing the Free Foresters against Oxford University last June. A. T. C. Allom, who was in the Charterhouse XI and has played for Surrey II, is the son of M. J. C. Allom, old international and the present treasurer of Surrey. Young Allom is 6ft 10ins, easily the tallest man who, to, my knowledge, has played first-class cricket.

I cannot discover a runner-up taller than Nigel Paul, 6ft 7ins, once of Cranleigh School, who has batted and bowled fast-medium left-arm for Warwickshire.

C. G. Ford, a member of F. G. J. "Stork" Ford's family, who was at Harrow and played for MCC in 1932, was 6ft 7ins. He died in 1944. P. H. Ford, who played for Gloucestershire before the first world war, was the same height, and so is J. D. F. Larter, of Framlingham and Suffolk, now playing for Northamptonshire II. A. W. B. Sclater, who played for Sussex 80 years ago, was 6ft 6ins.

Among those cricketers who reached 6ft 6ins were Durston of Middlesex, who played for England in 1921, L. E. Nagel of Victoria, who bowled for Australia against England in 1932-33, and his twin brother V.G., G. J. Bonnor, the great Australian hitter, Alan Marshal of Queensland and Surrey, who was one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year before the first world war, and Philip Hodgson, who played for Yorkshire a year or two ago. At least 100 other cricketers of 6ft 3ins or over have played in first-class cricket.

The smallest cricketers I can trace are P. T. Raddock and N. Tuiyau, of Fiji, each 5ft 1in Both Freeman of Kent and "Fanny" Walden of Northamptonshire were 5ft 2ins and so was F. Stephenson, who played for Lancashire many years ago.

George "Tiny" Wells of Sussex, who was in H. H. Stephenson's first team to Australia in 1861-62, was 5ft 2ins and T. W. Gunn of Surrey, a contemporary, was the same height. The smallest cricketer now playing in county cricket is perhaps D. Ward of Glamorgan, reported to be 5ft 3ins.

The heaviest cricketer I know of was W. Foulke of Derbyshire, at least 25 stone but always active. Understandably he was a well-known goalkeeper. Next comes C. H. Gausden, of Sussex (1847), 22 stone 10 lbs.

The Rev. A. R. Ward, who played for Cambridge University in 1852, weighed 20 stone, but I suspect that this figure was reached during his presidential years at Cambridge, 1873-84.

The mighty Alfred Mynn's weight is given as between 18 and 20 stone, and in his later years Warwick Armstrong touched 19 stone. Durston, the only man to appear in two lists, ended his cricket career weighing 19 stone 6 lbs and WG Grace ranged from 14 stone 8 lbs to 18 stone approximately.

George Brown, who played for Sussex over 100 years ago also weighed 18 stone and he had 17 children! Sherwin, the old Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper, scaled 17 stone 2 lbs C. A. Sneddon, jnr., of Auckland, now a noted broadcaster, is said to weigh 20 stone, and E. M. Cregar, once of Philadelphia, 19 stone.

Figures about exceptionally light cricketers are very sparse, and I cannot find anyone lighter than John Wisden, who at one time in his playing career weighed only 7 stone.

There must be many more outsizes such as Barratt, of Nottinghamshire, Major H. S. Bush and Jennings of Surrey, whose dimensions have not been published, but who may come within these limits. I should welcome information.

The number of tall cricketers has increased considerably - in line with the population as a whole - since this article was published, with the tallest current player Will Jefferson (Essex) who is a shade over 6ft. 10in. The records for the heaviest, however, are less threatened because of the modern desire for speed and agility in the field. The biggest recent players are probably Colin Milburn, who neared 19 stone at his peak, and Zimbabwe's Richie Kaschula who was around 20 stone.