As a right hand batsman capable of scoring freely all round the wicket and also possessing a sound defence, Joe Hardstaff senior held a permanent place in the Nottinghamshire XI for 20 years. His ability with the bat was reinforced by his brilliance as an out-fielder and by his occasional fast-medium right-arm bowling.
Born in Kirkby-in-Ashfield on 9 November 1882, he was selected for the Colts XXII in 1902 and given a place on the Trent Bridge staff in the same season; his First-Class debut came in the last county match of that year v Lancashire at Old Trafford in August. In 1904 he became a regular member of the First XI after primarily playing Club and Ground matches.
In those early seasons he batted in the middle order, usually at 5 or 6, and thus his seasonal average was assisted by a fair number of not-outs. In all First-Class games he reached 1,000 runs in a season for the first time in 1906, but in Nottinghamshire matches only achieved the target in 1908, when he also headed the County averages.
Joining the MCC ground staff in 1906, Hardstaff was picked for the Players v Gentlemen at the Oval in the same year and played two fine innings, hitting 44 in 45 minutes and 104 in 177 minutes, each without a mistake.
On the strength of his batting for Nottinghamshire v South Africans in 1907, when he hit 124no and 48, Hardstaff was chosen to tour Australia with MCC in 1907-08; this was undoubtedly the highlight of his career – he scored 1,360 runs in First-Class matches, creating a record for the most runs in a First-Class Australian season.
He played in all five Test matches and though his highest score in those matches was only 72, he averaged 31.10 for 10 completed innings. On his return to Nottinghamshire he was presented with an illuminated address by the people of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, his home town.
Hardstaff’s last First-Class match was for MCC v Wales at Lord’s in June 1926. In 1927 Joe Hardstaff joined the first-class Umpires list and remained on it until his death (he died suddenly on 2 April 1947). He stood in 17 Test matches between 1928 and 1935; his officiating in Tests was curtailed by the selection of his son for England.
He was a useful footballer and appeared on a few occasions for Nottingham Forest.
His son, Joseph also represented Nottinghamshire and England - thus he became Joe Hardstaff snr - and a third generation of Josephs, his grandson, also played First-Class Cricket.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 277