First class cricket at the domestic level is the stepping stone to the international level, and often the stage to finetune your game and reclaim your international standing when a cricketer finds the going difficult at the highest level. Sourav Ganguly used domestic cricket and a county spell with Northamptonshire as a stepping stone to forge a comeback in the Indian team, likewise Gautam Gambhir who found himself on the plane to England, thanks to a series of impressive performances in the domestic circuit. Let’s take a look at the Top 5 cricketers to have played most first class matches.
1. Wilfred Rhodes (1,110 matches)
Rhodes began his career for Yorkshire in 1898 as a slow left-arm bowler, and soon managed to find his way into the senior team a year later. Rhodes played 58 tests for England between 1899 and 1930, picking up 127 wickets and scoring 2325 runs. Rhodes became the first Englishman to complete the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in Test matches and holds both the illustrious world records both for the most appearances made in first class cricket (1,110 matches), and for the most wickets taken (4,204).
2. Frank Woolley (978 matches)
Frank Woolley was one of the finest all-rounders to have played the sport. In a career spanning over three decades, Woolley scored more runs than everyone but Jack Hobbs and took over 2,000 wickets. He averaged 40.75 in first class cricket and scored one thousand runs in an English domestic season on 28 occasions, a record equalled only by Grace.
3. W.G. Grace (870 matches)
W.G. Grace’s longevity is second to none. He played first class cricket for a record-equalling 44 seasons and Gloucestershire, England, the MCC, and The United South of England Eleven (USEE). Grace had qualified as a medical practitioner, so he was technically an amateur cricketer who made more money than the professional cricketers in his time. One of the true greats of the Gentleman’s game.
4. Jack Hobbs (834 matches)
Jack Hobbs was the prolific run scorer in the history of the game. Hobbs represented England in 61 tests between 1908 and 1930. Known as “The Master”, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket. He is the leading run-scorer in first class cricket with 61,760 runs and the highest century maker with 199 centuries in first class cricket.
5. Patsy Hendren (833 matches)
Patsy Hendren represented Middlesex and England on 833 occasions and earns the 5th spot in Sportzwiki’s Top 5 cricketers to have played most first class matches. He represented England in 51 test matches, scoring at an average of 47.63. He has the third highest run aggregate in first class cricket – 57,611 runs, just behind Jack Hobbs and Frank Woolley, and his total of 170 centuries ranks second only to Hobbs.