Never mind an All Time Irish XI or a One Cap Wonders side, what would be be best team composed of those who failed to catch the selectorial eye. or who did so, but for whatever reason never "pulled on the green jersey.?" I decided, one sleepless night, to try to pick one.
My opening pair would be two stalwarts of their respective clubs, H.A. Moore of NICC and Brian Buttimer of - mostly - Leinster. H. ARMITAGE MOORE, as the NICFC centenary brochure described him, was a fixture in the North side for some 20 years from 1905.
A heavy scorer, he shared in at least two club record partnerships, scored 154 in a two day match with Phoenix and made a vital century in a low scoring NCU Challenge Cup Final against Queen's in 1910. He also batted impressively for Woodbrook against Cambridge University and for an NCU side on tour in Scotland. We may forgive his failures for Ulster against Philadelphia in 1908 and All India in 1911, he was certainly not alone!
BRIAN BUTTIMER, has been described as "the unsung hero" of Leinster cricket. His 11423 runs, mostly scored for the Observatory Lane club, is comfortably a record for an uncapped player in Leinster CU competitive cricket. With 4 hundreds and 39 fifties helping him on his way, he stands 5th in the Union's all time batting list. With a season's best of 917 runs at an average of 50 in 1984, he. like Moore, had a Cup Final knock to remember, in his case an undefeated 66 against Railway Union in 1981.
At first drop I have chosen JACK GWYNN, "one of the best batsmen never to play for Ireland" according to Derek Scott. An elegant stroke maker, whose play was said closely to resemble that of his brother Lucius, he was also a reliable slip field - once holding 6 catches in an innings v Cork County - and a useful, though not front rank leg spinner. Between 1900 and 1905, he scored over 3000 runs for Dublin University with 6 hundreds, captaining the XI in 1903. In his final season, while he was preparing to enter the Indian Civil Service, he made 1036 runs and was selected to play for Ireland v HDG Leveson - Gower's XI. Unfortunately he was unavailable because of his ICS preparations. He had barely stepped off the "boat" on arrival in the sub continent, when he made 98 and 102 in successive matches, the latter for Madras v Ceylon.. He later played twice for Europeans v Indians in the first class Madras Presidency Match without much success. Otherwise, however, according to an eye witness, " the Gwynn style stood out in fairly good company."
At 4 we will have MAURICE ROBINSON, who as a highly promising teenage all rounder with Lisburn, had left Wallace Park for the Warwickshire staff in the summers of 1938 and 1939, playing for the 2nd XI and Club and Ground sides. War service with the RAF then took him to India where he played first class cricket in the Ranji Trophy as well as Europeans in the long running Bombay Pentangular Tournament and, like Gwynn, the Madras Presidency match .In the last named, playing over New Year's Eve and Day 1944/45, he had a match winning performance with 88 (run out) and 28* as well as taking 9 wickets, to play the major part in an 8 wickets win. An RAF posting after the War, gave him a Glamorgan qualification and enabled him to play 66 matches for the county between 1946 and 1950, hitting 2 hundreds and 6 fifties as he totted up over 2000 runs. His highest innings, 190, was a highly praised 5 hour knock, during which he and S.W. Montgomery put on 264 for the 5th wicket, still, as I write, a Glamorgan record. In 1951, he returned to Edgbaston, but most of his cricket there was for the 2nd XI an innings of 84 gaining him a 2nd XI cap. He left the county in 1953, opening a sports goods shop.
At the fall of the third wicket we have CLARK NICHOLL, whose non selection for Ireland over the years baffled followers far beyond the North West. He, too, had a Cup Final winning innings to remember, 94 for Brigade against Eglinton in 1973, a dominating performance which did much to set up an innings victory. He was, of course, an almost permanent fixture, in the North West XI in the Guinness Cup, making two centuries in the competition. The first, 160, came against South Leinster at Strabane in July 1979. Dominating a more than useful attack, he hit 2 sixes and 21 fours to set up a 57 run victory. Three years later, against the same opposition at Rathmines, North West facing a challenging score of 237 were 60/3 when Clark came to the wicket. At the close he was 100*, having hit 1 six and 19 fours, making his runs out of 117 added while he was at the wicket.
At 6 comes one of the tragic figures of all cricket, Co Meath born, ROBERT ST LEGER FOWLER, always known as Bob. A free scoring middle order batsman and quickish off spinner, lethal on rain affected turf, he wrote his name in cricket history in the Eton v Harrow match of 1910, which was then the highlight of London's social and sporting calendar. In a game, ever after known as Fowler's Match, Eton were forced to follow on, but Bob, performing the functions of both Botham and Willis at Headingly in 1981, saw them home by 6 runs . His wickets included Tom Jameson, later of Phoenix, Ireland, Hampshire and the Army, as well as future cabinet minister Walter Monckton. The end of the matchsaw the former Conservative Prime Minister A.J. Balfour throw his hat in the air in delight - perhaps his current Old Etonian successor might brandish his unwanted curtains instead. After Eton, Bob went to Sandhurst and then the Army and, apart from a few games for Phoenix, was lost to Irish cricket. He was twice selected to play v Scotland before war broke out bur first Eton and then Sandhurst refused him permission to play. After the War which brought him an MC, he made a few appearances for Hampshire but most of his cricket was for the Army and Combined Services, then both well able to justify their first class status. He made 65 and 32 for the Services against the 1921 Australians. more than most English Test batsmen managed that year. In combination with Jameson, a leg spinner, he formed a lethal combination in many Army matches, however the Army refused him permission, yet again, to play for Ireland v Scotland in 1921 and to go on the MCC tour of New Zealand in 1922/23. He was allowed to make two minor tours of Canada and the USA, in which his bowling was far too much for most North American batsmen and to accept the captaincy of the MCC team to tour the West Indies in 1924/25. Unfortunately it was delayed for a year and Bob never took part in it. Forced home to Co Meath by leukaemia he had died before the tour took place.
At No 7 is our keeper GEORGE GAUKRODGER, who gets in ahead of Pembrokes's Harry Hill - the best uncapped gloveman I ever saw and North Down's Dennis Arrt, whom, unfortunately, I never saw play. Despite what you may read on Cricinfo, George was born in Belfast. In his younger days he excelled at both cricket and football, playing for Linfield - as did one of his brothers - in the latter sport, scoring a goal in an 10 - 1 Irish Cup Final win over Bohemians and scoring again on his sole international appearance v Wales in 1895.. However cricket was always his first love. He opened the batting for the Ulster Club and also for Ulster in interprovincials .At Rathmines in 1898 he hit a superb 179 as Ulster posted an impressive 334, however with Bob Lambert in form Leinster were easily able to draw the match. In 1900 George signed for Worcestershire and, having qualified in 1902, made his County Championship debut as wicket keeper. That season he made 696 runs with a highest score of 76 against Hampshire. He also made 59 against the Ashes winning Australian tourists, besides making 48 dismissals. The following season he made 91 against Lancashire but thereafter his batting faded somewhat. His wicket keeping remained of a high standard as he twice made 8 dismissals in a match and had also claimed a then county record with 5 stumpings against Somerset at Taunton in 1902, which has twice been equalled but never surpassed. However he lost his regular place in 1908, played his last match in 1910, and by 1911 was playing in the Bradford League in which he eventually became an umpire.
At No 8 I decided, after much mental wrestling to pick ADRIAN NAUGHTON, attacking lower middle order batsman and left arm fast medium bowler who would add variety to our pace attack. and was capable of turning a match in half an hour with his powerful hitting. In the 1963 Leinster Cup Final he came in at 58/6 as Dublin University were on the roped against Merrion needing 159 to win. Adrian's 44 , and a good innings from wicket keeper Chris Anderson, saw them over the line. A spectacular innings for Phoenix the in 1967 when he had been flown in specially forthe match,almost pull off an astonishing Cup Final win against Phoenix while as a bowler on tour with the University in 1963 he caught the first wicket to fall in a match v Taunton Deane and then took the remaining 9, without the help, it may be said of this writer who was umpiring! Also playing for Munster and North Leinster Adrian was three times Irelands 12th man but his career as a British Army officer probably denied him a cap. Instead he had a long and distinguished cricket career for the Army, Combined Services, Free Foresters and other sides, including Singapore whom he captained .
At 9 we have the first of our two opening bowlers STANLEY BARNES, younger brother of Internationals Bobby and Jacky, who was probably denied a cap by war and his decision to take up a medical appointment in London.
Bowling at a lively right arm fast medium. with an awkward bouncer that reared off a good length, his appearances for Armagh were limited but he took 49 wickets, including 7/17 v Cregagh in 1940. He will, however, be best remembered for his time with Dublin University, for whom, in competitive cricket .he took 165 wickets in 50 matches, including 13 "5 fors." These included two remarkable performances against Clontarf in 1941 when he took 9/41 at Castle Avenue and 8/41 in College Park. In all in that short University season he took 61 wickets. He was also a useful tailender, an uncomplicated striker of the ball with a highest score of 83.
Our other opening bowler bats at 10, Lisburn and North Down stalwart LAWRENCE HUNTER, considered by many most unlucky not to have followed his elder brother Raymond in gaining caps for both cricket and Rugby. One of his finest performances for Lisburn came in a losing cause in the 1966 Cup Final, then still a two innings match, against Downpatrick. He took 8/76 in the Co Down side's second innings but all, unfortunately, to no avail. He also had some notable performances in the Guinness Cup to his credit with, for example the remarkable figures of 31 - 11 - 40 - 5 for Ulster Country against Ulster Town in 1967 and 5/78 against the North West the following year. In 1973 he switched clubs to North Down and headed the Comber side's bowling averages from 1974 to 1979.
The final bowling place also caused me some trouble. Eventually, ignoring my original plan of another genuine front rank spinner, I decided to choose NIAL McCONNELL, Railway Union's long time tormenter of batsmen. His 1033 wickets in Leinster cricket were equalled by Gerry Kirwan but only surpassed by one player the great Jimmy Boucher. Bowling at a slow medium pace around the wicket, often in tandem with a similar type of bowler in Edgar Pigot, Niall, in pre limited overs days, would take the new ball and usually bowl unchanged through long Saturday and Sunday afternoons, moving the ball slightly in the air and almost impossible to get away. His figures in Leinster Cup matches of the 1960s provide fine examples of his skill. In the 1961 Final, lost by two wickets to Dublin University, he bowled, unchanged o/f course, with his usual skill and accuracy to record figures of 37 - 10 - 75 - 5 while in the semi final against Merrion, defending a total of 485 he had taken 6/158 to bring about victory by 107 runs. In 1973 in A Guinness Cup match for South v North Leinster in 1973 he took 3/69 in 29 unchanged overs before his team cruised to a 7 wicket victory,
My final task was to choose a captain. Most of the XI have captaincy experience but Fowler, who clearly was an inspirational leader, standa out. So to him goes the mythical armband.
H A MOORE IT has been suggested to me that he may be Hugh Armytage -Moore who laid out and developed the garden at Rowallane Estate in Saintfield, Co Down. Any information which confirms or otherwise would be welcome.
GEORGE GAUKRODGER some sources, including Cricinifo and his belated Wisden obituary, show him as having been born in Yorkshire. This kis not the case, the Yorkshireman, who died in 1945, six years after the cricketer was George Warrington Gaukrodger, who was, according to our man's granddaughter - who put me right about things several years ago - was "probably a second cousin" as the cricketer's father did, indeed, come from the north of England.
JACK GWYNN Those readers who consult CricketArchive to see his career details will discover that he was my maternal grandfather. Before Iam accused of some kind of reverse nepotism I would say that his record speaks for itself. Besides to paraphrase Harold Macmillan, who, on being asked why so many of his cousins and other Old Etonians were in his government replied "If you can't put your schoool chums and family in the cabinet when you're PM when can you do it?" - if you can't pick you grandad when you are the sole selector when can you do it?