Hubert Henry De Burgh

Born16 February 1879, Oldcastle, Naas, Co Kildare
Died6 November 1960, Oldcastle, Naas Co Kildare
EducatedSt Mark's, Windsor; Royal Naval College, Dartmouth (HMS Britannia)
OccupationOfficer in Royal Navy retired as Captain
Debut9 June 1926 v Oxford University at The University Parks
Cap Number336
StyleRight-hand bat
TeamsPhoenix, Na Shuler, MCC, I Zingari, Europeans
HistoryHubert De Burgh traced his ancestry, not only from one of the ancient Royal Houses of Ireland, but also from the Anglo - Norman settlers. King John's henchman, whose name he shared, and the notorious Red Earl of Ulster, confidant of Robert The Bruce, featured in his family tree. This heritage was seen in his cricket. Tall and strong, he stood straight to the fastest bowlers and liked nothing better than to take them on. Even in his later years, he was, in Pat Hone's words, "On a fast wicket, one of our most dangerous batsmen." His naval duties meant that he was not seen much in Irish cricket before 1914, though he played some matches for Phoenix and also appeared for Na Shuler in matches in Cork and at Ballywalter.

In March 1906, he made his first class debut, appearing for Europeans v Hindus in the Bombay Tournament: the premier first class cricket in India until the advent of the Ranji Trophy in the 1930s. Batting first wicket down, he had scores of 28 and 10, which were successful compared to the efforts of many of his team mates as the Hindus, to general rejoicing in non-European circles, won by 102 runs. In his second innings, Hubert fell to P Baloo, arguably India's best bowler in pre-Test days.

The War brought de Burgh promotion and recognition for courage and seamanship. On 5 June 1917, having recently been promoted to Commander, and given command of a destroyer, he was involved in an action with a German destroyer off the Belgian Coast. His ship was under heavy fire from shore batteries and suffered the attentions of three seaplanes overhead. Nevertheless, he succeeded in sinking the enemy, and then, despite the continuing hostile actions already described, picked up six survivors. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). By the end of the War, he had also gained the Legion of Honour from France.Retiring as a Captain he returned to Naas and made some appearances for Phoenix, though not on a regular basis.

He did, however meet with success. Hone recalled, "A great innings of over 200 for Phoenix against Leinster when he was no longer a young man." This was in a friendly; he played 34 times for the Club in competitive matches. With a highest innings of 136*, he totalled 998 runs at an average of 29.35. He was selected for Ireland against Oxford University in June 1926, by which time he was 47. Batting at 7 he was out for 1, rain prevented a second innings. Later in the season he joined the company of those who have played both for and against Ireland, appearing for MCC in the two matches played that year. At Ormeau, at number three, he hit a typically dashing first innings top score of 50, before falling to John Hampson of Ulster CC in his only season for Ireland. Moving on to College Park, after a draw in Belfast, he fell for 1 to Middlesex "leggie" EL Kidd in the first innings, but was again top scorer in the second knock, driving his way to 66, before being deceived by the off spin of all rounder Jacko Heaslip. Ireland still won by 183 runs.

He played good cricket until well into his fifties, not only for Phoenix, but also for MCC, for example captaining them on their annual tour of Devon for several years in the 1930s. It must be a source of regret, that his service career prevented him from playing more often in Irish and English cricket when he was in his prime, as it is suspected that he had the talent to have gone far in the game. However it is unlikely that he would have wanted his life any other way.

Edward Liddle, April 2007

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