Stanning made his debut for Oxford against the Minor Counties in early June 1939, scoring 39 and 9. In five further matches for the university that season, he usually got a start but could not go on to make any really significant scores, his best game being the Varsity Match against Cambridge when he made 38 in the first innings and 39 not out in the second to help set up a 45-run victory. His next match, and indeed all the remaining games of his brief first-class career, was for Worcestershire, playing in the County Championship against Somerset.
He made only 4 and 0 as Worcestershire suffered two collapses, from 112/2 to 130 all out in the first innings, and from 116/4 to 142 all out in the second, but Howorth"s 4-27 off 9.4 eight-ball overs (this was the only season in which the eight-ball over was used in England) saved the day, and when he bowled Horace Hazell the match finished in a thrilling tie.
Perks and Martin then ran through the Northamptonshire batting order to bowl them out for 66, but Worcestershire made heavy weather of chasing 100, falling to a precarious 71/9 before White"s 31 saw them home. Stanning had little to do with this, though, as he had been bowled for nought.
Stanning played three more times in 1939, but did very little of note on any of these occasions. The Second World War then intervened, and although he did return to play two games in 1946 (only the second of which, against Glamorgan, did he bat in), time had moved on and he was to make no more first-class appearances.
John Stanning died on 29 May 2007.