A left-arm medium-pace bowler, Richard Green Hardstaff had a most peculiar and ungainly action and throughout his First-Class career his delivery was regarded by some as unfair. The matter was not, however, brought into the open until 1899, 12 seasons after his debut, when he was no-balled for throwing and his spell in county cricket was brought to an end.
Born on 12 January 1863 in Selston, Hardstaff formed one of XXII Colts in 1887 when he returned the curious first innings bowling figures 13-11-2-2; a further trial was given to him versus Yorkshire Colts. He made his First-Class debut for Notts at Lord’s versus MCC in June 1887 but was only given four overs. In 1889 he again represented the XXII Colts and in September 1890 the Next XVI v the County. His second First-Class match did not, however, occur until 1893 when he played in the last match of the season v the Australians. Against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge in 1894 he created a sensation, Notts having been dismissed for 106, Yorkshire closed at 63-1. By lunch on the second day they had collapsed to be 94 all out. Hardstaff figures for the morning were 6-16 to finish with 29.1-12-44-7; he took 10-94 in the match. Because of his Lancashire League engagements with Rawtenstall, Hardstaff’s opportunities for county cricket in 1894 and 1895 were very limited; on his first appearance in 1895 v Sussex at Hove he took 11-118 and at the end of the year headed the Notts averages, though only taking 17 wickets. His only regular season in First-Class cricket was 1896 during which he obtained his best match bowling figures of his career, namely 12-110 v Cambridge University at Trent Bridge. A week later, he had a remarkable all-round performance v Derbyshire at Derby, when he scored a personal best 60, adding 109 for the last wicket with William Gunn, and in Derbyshire’s only innings took a career best 8-53. After a few games in the first half of 1897 he did not re-appear until his final match v Australians at Trent Bridge in July 1899, when he was no-balled for throwing. In 30 First-Class games for Notts he scored 252 runs @8.12 and took 100 wickets @19.88.
Apart from his bowling, he was an excellent fielder and a left-hand bat of the swiping variety. By occupation he was a miner; in later years being employed at Pinxton Colliery. He was on the Oval ground staff in 1887 and between 1892 and 1900 he was with Rawtenstall (187 matches, 857 runs @7.51, 704 wickets @9.81). He also played with Selston CC, Castleton CC and Gunthorpe CC. He died in Selston aged 69 years on 18 April 1932.
He is not thought to be related to Joseph Hardstaff and his family.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 192