The Cricket Writers of Ireland have inducted Andre Botha, Stella Owens and Bob Lambert into their Hall of Fame.
Our first inductee sprang to prominence at the age of 11 when she won the player of the match award in the Leinster Women’s Senior Cup final, the first of many trophies she won with Clontarf.
As there was no girls cricket at the time she played on the boys sides and became such a feared opponent that a rule was introduced banning mixed sides – she was the only girl playing at the time.
Our inductee was an exceptional fast bowler and was 17 years old when Ireland played their first international back in 1983. She took Ireland’s very first wicket and ended with 11 overs 6 maidens 1 for 8. Her career was hampered by injuries however and she played just 35 matches over the next decade, reinventing herself as a fluent batter who could tear an attack apart. She later moved to work in Belfast and played interprovincials for Ulster.
But for several seasons she was one of the most feared bowlers in women's world cricket and a giant in the history of our game. Our inductee this year is STELLA OWENS
All games (35): 697 runs, avge 24.03, 5 fifties, best of 84no. 19 wickets at 28.4, best of 3-13.
ODIs (24): 497 runs, avge 20.83, 3 fifties. 7 wickets.
Our posthumous inductee is a titan whose career for Ireland spanned an incredible 38 summers. He was first capped as a teenager in 1893, and was 56 when he bowed out in 1930. In all that time Ireland played just 71 matches, but our inductee played in 51 of them, scored almost 2,000 runs and taking 173 wickets. His finest innings is said to be a century against the Philadelphians in 1908, and with his off-breaks he took 3-3 and 7-11 against Scotland in 1910.
His performances for Ireland caught the eye of Dr WG Grace who invited him to play for London County, the Doctor describing his batting as “perfection”. He was called up late for his final cap, against MCC in 1930, and bowled 27 overs unchanged, taking 4-102.
His record in all matches is jaw-dropping, with an estimated 37,000 runs and 101 centuries, four of which came for Ireland. In 1895 and 1896 he scored over 2,000 runs and took 200 wickets each season and continued to dominate the sport in Leinster for three decades.
He was 44 when the Leinster senior league began in 1921, and he celebrated by winning the batting cup with an average of 217. He won seven league titles with his club, Leinster, and retired after the fifth of his club’s eight-in-a-row in 1932.
He was Leinster delegate at the founding meeting of what became the Irish Cricket Union and was ICU president on three occasions as well as fathering two international players.
Our posthumous inductee is BOB LAMBERT, and his award is being accepted by his grandson, Mark Lambert.
51 matches, 1,954 runs, avge 27.91. 4 centuries, 8 fifties. 173 wickets, avge 18.65, best of 7-11.
Our final inductee came to Ireland as a teenager from South Africa, recruited by legendary coach John Lyon to play for the Clontarf club in Dublin. He struggled to settle but his cricket did the talking, finishing third in the Leinster batting averages and fifth in the bowling, ensuring he won the Samuels Cup as best all-rounder. The following year he made 920 runs and scored a match-winning century in the cup final.
He moved to North County in 2001 just as his qualification to play for Ireland was secured. New coach Adrian Birrell was quick to get him into the side and over the next decade he played 141 times for Ireland, scoring 3,606 runs at 27.74 and taking 176 wickets at 21.99. He would undoubtedly have got more had a series of injuries robbed him of many caps and eventually forced him to retire after the 2011 World Cup.
Our inductee played many notable and important innings for Ireland, including the Irish record partnership for any wicket of 360 shared with Eoin Morgan, one of five centuries scored in the Intercontinental Cup. His finest hour arguably came with the ball, his stunning spell of eight overs, four maidens, 2 for 5 playing a huge part in Ireland’s famous win over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup.
He won five Irish Senior Cups with North County before moving to Terenure and when he retired from club cricket he had the record 25 centuries in 313 games, as well as 12,000 runs and 464 wickets. He has since become an international coach and spent 2022 leading Balbriggan to the top of the Championship and this year to the Premier League title.
Our final inductee this year is ANDRE BOTHA
141 matches, 3,606 runs, avge 27.74. 6 centuries, 13 fifties. 176 wickets, avge 21.99, best of 4-19.