Sir George Oliver Colthurst (7th Baronet of Ardrum)

Born24 August 1882, Little Island Cork
Died28 February 1951, Blarney, Co Cork
EducatedHarrow School, Cambridge University
OccupationArmy Officer
Debut25 June 1924 v Wales at Ormeau
Cap Number323
StyleLeft-hand bat
TeamsCork County, Quidnuncs, Na Shuler, I Zingari
HistoryGeorge Oliver Colthurst, direct descendant of William the Conqueror and owner of the Blarney Stone, was a member of a long established Anglo - Irish land owning family, a cricket dynasty in Co Cork. His father George Saint John Colthurst was both President and Captain of Cork County for many years and George O was destined to follow in his footsteps. A good batsman at Harrow, though not in the XI, he was elected a Quidnunc at Cambridge, unusual for one who did not play in a first class match, though at that time, "Qualities other than cricket ability seem to have been required" (World of Cricket), few fixtures being played.

He was soon playing for Cork County, first appearing in the annual match v Na Shuler in 1903. Opening the batting he was out for 6: hardly an auspicious start except that it was top score off the bat as the County were shot out for 41. Young George had to cede pride of place as top scorer to Mr Extras who notched a handy 15! Fortunately for the County, rain intervened. In 1905 he made what might be termed a more genuine top score: 92* in a drawn match. The "Shulers" went into abeyance after the War, but resurfaced in the late 1930s to find George, now captain and President of the County still among their opponents. Two matches stand out. In 1937 Na Shuler won narrowly, thanks largely to a fine 95 from Hampshire and Ireland bat Tom Jameson. George had a second innings 56 before giving Jameson a return catch. In 1939, in the last match of this historic series, as German troops moved towards the Polish border and even Neville Chamberlain prepared for war, County beat their guests by 90 runs. Their captain, 10 days short of his 57th birthday, dropped himself to 10 in the order but made 27 and 33*, before catching the Shulers last man, Sir William Blunden, to win the match.

He also made several appearances in the long running matches with Dublin University. In a high scoring two day match in 1926 he hit a quick 90 as Warwickshire batsman MC Parry reached 219* to enable the County to declare on 446/4. The visitors replied with 395 all out, including a last wicket record 120 between wicket keeper Harry Forsyth and Tennis captain Sean Jeffares. George also captained Munster in 1920s Interprovincials and made a telling 34 when a rare 3 wicket victory over Leinster was secured in 1924. The Munster side in this match included former Lancashire captain AH Hornby, son of the famous "Monkey" Hornby whose captaincy possibly contributed to England's defeat at The Oval in 1882 and so to the birth of The Ashes.

George played 5 times for Ireland, twice as captain, between 1924 and 1930. His best days were behind him and, though he was by no means the only 40 plus year old to be selected at this time, it seems likely that his wealth and status were as important as his likely contribution with the bat. In his second match, having failed at Number 6 in his debut v Wales in Belfast, he found that autocratic captain AP Kelly had relegated him to 10 v MCC at College Park. He contributed 31* in the second innings. He also played in the two MCC matches in 1926. Captaining the side at Ormeau, he batted at 5 and made his highest score, a first innings 35. He was out for 0 in the second innings and reached double figures on only one other occasion. These three innings accounted for 78% of his total runs! His final appearance was v MCC at The Mardyke in 1930. Inevitably, at this venue, he was captain. He was also in his second term as President of the Irish Cricket Union, having been the fourth ever in 1927. He remains the only person to have held the two posts simultaneously. Rain ruined the match, sweeping over the ground, just after George had been brilliantly caught at silly mid on for 9.

He continued to captain the County until 1947 and was still President at the time of his death in 1951. The family cricket tradition survived him. His brother Richard succeeded to both the Baronetcy and the Presidency of the Club. Sir Richard's two sons, confusingly also named Richard and George were both in the XI at Harrow and played good club cricket for MCC, Free Foresters and IZ. Richard, the elder brother, also had one game for Somerset 2nd XI in 1951, scoring 60 and 26, falling in the first innings to George Bernard Shaw, a Glamorgan off spinner not an Irish dramatist! Away from the cricket field Sir George Oliver Colthurst had a distinguished First World War, winning the Croix De Guerre with the Southern Irish Horse.

Edward Liddle, September 2007

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