John Howarth was a medium-pace opening bowler from Stockport in Cheshire who has his place in the record books for his batting – or lack of it!
Howarth played one match for Lancashire Seconds in 1964 and then joined the playing staff at Trent Bridge, making his Second XI debut at the John Player ground in June 1965 against Leicestershire Seconds.
He had a good run in the Seconds and earned a place in the first team at the start of the following season, playing two First-Class matches in 1966 – versus Warwickshire at Edgbaston and against Essex at home. His other 11 First-Class games all came in 1967, nine in the County Championship plus the usual season-opener v Cambridge University at Fenner’s and a fixture against the touring India team at Trent Bridge in July. He took 19 wickets at 33.78 and a best return of 3-30 v Hampshire but his exploits at number 11 in the batting order are what stand out…
In 2006, he contacted the cricket stats website, Cricinfo to ask:
“I was just looking at my first-class record and wondered if anyone had played more than 13 first-class games without scoring a run, as I managed?!”
The reply confirms his suspicions: “Well, it's nice to get a question from the horse's mouth, as it were - John Howarth played 13 matches for Nottinghamshire as a fast-medium bowler in 1966 and 1967, taking 19 wickets, but never once managed a run, in seven innings (average: 0.00). This appears to be the most first-class matches in a career by anyone, anywhere, who failed to make a run, although Seymour Clark, a wicketkeeper and famously inept batsman, had more innings without scoring - nine in five matches - for Somerset in 1930.”
Talking at one of the Former Players' Days, John joked: "I played my cricket for fun...but I couldn't get a run!" He also enjoys regaling audiences (especially any Yorkshiremen) of the time when he unleashed an unintentional bouncer and knocked Fred Trueman's cap off Fiery's head. Howarth soon got Tureman's wicket but was very worried about what retribution might come his way; asked if Fred did, in fact, bowl at him, he recoils even now and gleefully says "No, I'm pleased to say!"
Howarth had more success in his one-day cricket career; in his five List-A matches – three for Notts and two for Minor Counties East – he took eight wickets at the very reasonable average of 18.12 and an economy rate of just 3.08 runs per over. His best bowling figures were 3-30, coincidentally identical to his First-Class best.
John Stirling Howarth was born on 26 March 1945 in Stockport, Cheshire and finished his playing days with his home county, appearing in 11 Minor Counties Championship matches between 1976-78. He regularly attends the Old Players Days at Trent Bridge.
The irony of his profile picture will not be lost on John or on Notts fans.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 446