ONE of Hampshire’s best known club cricketers has died after a short illness, aged 71.

A prominent left-arm spin bowler, Jim Smallbone spent over 50 years playing for Petersfield, his home town club, and for the past two decades, the Hampshire Seniors’ for whom he was the leading all-time wicket taker.

He was selected to play for England’s Veterans team on several occasions, his economical bowling spells being pivotal to victories in home and away ‘Ashes’ victories over Australia in 2009 and again in 2011.

Besides playing, Jim managed successful Hampshire Cricket Association and Cricket Board representative teams and overall made an enormous contribution to cricket in the county and beyond.

It stretched well beyond the 50 years he spent at Petersfield as a player, Colts manager, 1st X1 captain, groundsman, maintenance man, not to mention serving behind the bar, and often making the teas.

An electrician by trade, Jim didn’t take up cricket until he was 18 years of age, but he captured almost 290 Southern League wickets for Petersfield and many, many more in the Hampshire League during his long and loyal time at The Heath, which came to an end ten years ago when he joined Havant.

Unbeknown to many outside of his close circle of friends, Jim was a steam railway buff and had just finished building a model railway track at his Petersfield home when he was admitted to hospital.