April 19, 1737, Empshott, Hampshire
December 31, 1826, Petersfield, Hampshire, (aged 89y 256d)
Right hand bat
John Small was a right-hand batsman who dominated cricket for two decades from the 1760s. He was renowned for running quick singles - John Nyren said he was "as active as a hare" and effectively invented doing so, as well as a more upright stance. He was also an excellent fielder at "middle wicket". Many of his feats predated the keeping of accurate records, but in 1775 he made 136 not out for Hambledon against Surrey, adding 85 not out in the same fixture the next year. He was still playing for MCC at the age of 60. In 1775 he was bowled three times by "Lumpy" Stevens, the ball passing between the two stumps on each occasion - a third stump was added soon afterwards as a result. Away from cricket he was a gamekeeper, draper, violinist and, for 75 years, a chorister at Petersfield. He was originally a cobbler but he later expanded his business to the manufacture of cricket bats and balls. It is sometimes said that he introduced the straight bat, instead of the old curved bat, after bowlers started pitching the ball instead of skimming or trundling it. It is more likely that he was simply the first batsman to master the use of the straight bat and that he subsequently made them.
Batting & Fielding
Debut/Last Matches - Player
News and Features