John Sharp

ESPNcricinfo staff

SHARP, MR. JOHN, who died on January 27, enjoyed an unparalleled career in cricket and football. As a professional with Everton, he took part in two final ties for the Football Association Cup and was on the winning side in 1906. He helped England beat Ireland in 1903, in 1905 was in the eleven victorious over Scotland and he became a director of the Everton Club. When still in his football prime as an outside right, he played in three Cricket Tests against the Australian team of 1909, scoring 105 at the Oval, the only century for England in that series. The Oval match was made historic by Warren Bardsley getting 136 and 130--the first batsman credited with two centuries in a Test and the only Australian who has met with such success. From 1899 to 1914 Sharp was a regular member of the Lancashire eleven and played in all the matches of 1904 when the Championship was won without defeat being suffered. After the War he appeared as an amateur and captained the side from 1923 to 1925 when he retired. In 1924 he was on the England Test selection committee with H.D. G. Leveson Gower and John Daniell--so completing a unique set of honours.

Born at Hereford on February 15, 1878, John Sharp showed exceptional batting ability when 14 years of age by scoring 208 not out against Ledbury, but for Lancashire he did best as a bowler for some time. Short and thick-set he put a lot of power behind the ball and, if not very fast, he kept up a good pace with off-break and lift. In 1901 he took 112 wickets at 22.43 each, and with 883 runs, average 25.22, he was the one notable all-rounder in his County eleven. Nine batsmen fell to him in an innings at Worcester and ten years later at Derby he took five wickets for 14 runs. Another good performance with the ball was seven Middlesex wickets for 25 at Lord's in 1909, six men being dismissed by him in the course of four overs and two balls. Altogether for Lancashire Sharp took 448 wickets at 26.22 runs apiece. His batting figures are much more impressive--20,829 runs for the County and 22,715 all told, average nearly 32 in each case, while his first-class centuries numbered 38, the highest being 211 against Leicestershire at Old Trafford in 1912. On that occasion A. H. Hornby, then the Lancashire captain, helped Sharp add 245 for the eighth wicket in two hours and a half.

Always good to watch, Sharp scored freely to the off by hard drives and cuts, while, like most short batsmen, he pulled with plenty of power. Brilliant fielding, usually at cover point, completed John Sharp's cricket equipment and a bright cheerful disposition helped him as captain; yet an error in judging a catch influenced his retirement from first-class cricket. This happened when Cecil Parkin was taking his benefit at Old Trafford in 1925. Middlesex won the toss and John Sharp, fielding at short-leg, missed H. W. Lee off the first ball. An opening partnership of 121 between Lee and J. W. Hearne ensued and Middlesex won decisively. Sharp was greatly upset by the attitude of some of the crowd over the dropped catch, and he threatened never again to play at Old Trafford. The Lancashire Committee persuaded him to change his decision, but at the end of the season Sharp sent in his resignation.

In 1913 John Sharp was given a benefit which realised £1,679 and in 1936 he was made an honorary life member of the Lancashire County Club.

© John Wisden & Co