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Former Hampshire batsman John Manners today became only the second former county cricketer to celebrate his 103rd birthday.
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Manners is the only surviving pre-war county cricketer and the world’s oldest surviving former first-class cricketer.
The only other former county cricketer to have reached his 103rd birthday is Jim Hutchinson, the former Derbyshire batsman, who was the oldest-ever first-class cricketer when he died at the age of 103 years 344 days in November 2000.
Manners, who lives in Hungerford, made his first-class debut for Hampshire against Gloucestershire at Portsmouth in 1936 and made 81 in his first innings.
He made four more appearances for the county that season but his commitments in the Royal Navy meant that Manners had to wait until after World War II for his next first-class cricket.
He served on the Royal Yacht before the outbreak of war and then on torpedo boats in the Mediterranean Sea and Far East.
He then served on destroyers and was in command of HMS Viceroy when it sank a U-boat in April 1945. He was awarded the DSC and was appointed Naval Liaison Officer to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst before he returned to sea in 1953.
During shore leave or his postings on land, Manners resumed his cricket career playing for the Combined Services against Gloucestershire at Bristol in 1947 and re-appearing for Hampshire against Kent at Canterbury later that season.
He made the last of his 21 first-class appearances for the Free Foresters against Oxford University in 1953.
Manners scored 1,162 runs in 37 innings with four centuries, his first for Hampshire against Kent in 1947 and his highest, 147, for Combined Services against Gloucestershire at Gloucester in 1948.
In later life Manners was bursar at Daunstey’s School in Wiltshire.
He is now the fourth oldest former first-class cricketer in the world after Hutchison, Syd Ward of Wellington (1907-2010) and Norman Gordon of Transvaal and South Africa (1911-2014).
The only other living centenarian first-class cricketer is Jack Laver of Tasmania who was born in March 1917.