Philip Albert Meldon

Born18 December 1874 Dublin
Died8 April 1942
EducatedBeaumont College Dublin University
OccupationArmy Officer retired as Lieutenant - Colonel
Debut21 August 1899 Vice Regal Ground
Cap Number239
StyleRight-hand bat, right-arm leg breaks and googlies
TeamsDublin University, Co Galway, Co Wicklow, MCC, Royal Artillery
History Philip Meldon was a member of one Ireland's most famous cricket families whose deeds spanned two generations. A forcing right-handed batsman, whom some thought unreliable, he was a very good leg spinner of whom Pat Hone wrote, "He must have been the slowest bowler who ever bowled in reputable cricket." His deliveries seemed easy to counter, but they claimed the best, including WG Grace, Monty Noble and Victor Trumper. He entered Dublin University in 1895, becoming at once a key part of the XV, and was ever present in the XI from 1896 to1899. His first big match for the University was v WG Grace's XI in 1897. With 3-81 he was the best bowler, bowling "The Champion" round his legs with a prototype "Gatting Ball." In 1899, he appeared for Ireland against I Zingari at The Vice Regal Ground. The Irish side, decimated by a selection dispute, was no match for the visitors, but Philip might have felt annoyed that his bowling was virtually ignored. In all he took 243 wickets for the University XI at an average of just over 10. His best season was 1897 when 86 other batsmen in addition to Grace fell to his wiles. He was, throughout his career, sometimes accused of getting wickets by bowling high tossed "donkey drops" with batsmen being bowled after losing the ball in the sun.

That winter he became the first of his families' three double internationals. Though mainly a Rugby footballer, it was at the round ball game that he was selected for Ireland. At inside right, he scored the only goal of the match to beat Wales, but he was dropped after an 8-1 defeat by Scotland. He was commissioned early in 1900, and spent the next two years in South Africa. In 1905, he was back in Ireland and played for the University Past and Present against the Australians. The tourists bowling was too much for all except Frank Browning, who twice passed 50, but Philip's unusual bowling, backed up by the band of the Cameron Highlanders blaring triumphantly every time he took a wicket, gave him match figures of 10-216.

Besides Trumper and Noble his haul included Sid Gregory, Reggie Duff and Warwick Armstrong. Three weeks later, he played for Ireland for the last time. Ireland lost by 53 runs to HDG Leveson-Gower's XI, and, though the "old firm" of Ross and Harrington were on song, it was most surprising that Philip, banished to 11 in the batting order, did not get a bowl. He made two unremarkable first class appearances for MCC in 1911, but his Irish cricket, when on leave, was confined to matches for Counties Wicklow and Galway.

He often bowled in tandem with his brother WW "Budge " Meldon for Wicklow, the latter was a seamer. The Wicklow groundsman was said to prepare wickets that favoured seam at one end and leg spin at the other. Philip served in France and at Gallipoli. He finished with a DSO and a "mention" in despatches. In 1921, he married Albreda Bewicke Copley sister of the 5th Baron Cromwell, there were no children. He retired from the Army in 1928, having served for 28 years in the Royal Field Artillery. He was Professor of Artillery and Tactics at Royal Military College Canada 1913 - 14 and, having previously served in the Boer War was prominent during the First World War, winning the DSO and being twice wounded seeing service in both France and the Dardanelles. After the War, he was a member of the Allied Commission of Control in Gremany 1919 - 24 and Commandant of the Artillery Training School in India 1926-28.

A previous version of this article assumed that he was the Colonel Meldon who played, with little success, for Armagh 1924- 26. However it is clear that this was not the case, the player concerned being his cousin Colonel JA Meldon, brief details of whose time at The Mall may be found in the biography of his (JA's) father AG Meldon. After his retirement Philip became Chairman and Managing Director of Burns Oates and Washbourne, a publishing company with close connections to the Catholic Church. However on the outbreak of war in 1939 Philip Albert Meldon returned to the colours serving as a Senior Intellegence offcer in both the Home and Foreign Offices until his death at the age of 67.

Edward Liddle, April 2007, updated December 2013

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