There’s a couple of fantastic videos on YouTube which could well be the earliest films of cricket in Ireland. Both were newsreels, short films which were shown in the cinemas before the main feature and carried the news of the day and some other clips of sport and everyday life.

In the early summer of 1921, two such newsreels were made in Dublin.

‘The Cricket Season Opens in Dublin’ shows a few brief clips of a trial match played in – a rather rugged looking – College Park between sides captained by Herbert Rollins and Richard Power. The Pavilion hasn’t changed much, but the Moyne Institute which dominates the south-east of the ground was yet to be the built.

Rollins was the 1st XI captain but this was one of his last games. Already an Ireland cap, he made 133 against UCD in the first game of the season, and 94 against Pembroke. He then fell ill with meningitis, and died six weeks later, aged 20.

The second video is labelled ‘Leinster v University College at Rathmines’ which took place on 18 May 1921 – just a week before the Custom House was burned down.

The short film shows the old, much-missed Rathmines pavilion and the rows of spectators sitting outside as the Leinster team walk out to field – including several very small schoolboys as well as legends such as Bob Lambert and Jack Kempster. The umpires follow, wearing long white coats over their suits, before the UCD batsmen make their way to the wicket.

The second of these is tall, much taller than his partner, and wears one of those pith helmets you usually see in old photos of tiger hunters carrying blunderbuss shotguns. He is wearing some thin gloves on his hands, perhaps one of those old ones with dimples on the back. But what is also striking about the second man is that he is black, a very rare sight in Ireland of the time.

His name was Aldwyn George Francis, from Trinidad in the West Indies, and he was studying medicine at UCD. In the video we see him play two shots, one a dance down the pitch and the second an aggressive carve into the covers. The camera speeds distort what the play was like, but the bowling seems gentle.

Francis enjoyed his visit to Rathmines, scoring 72. It was his maiden fifty for UCD, for whom he made his debut in 1920, scoring 40 runs in eight games. His team-mates that day against Leinster included notable rugby administrator Sarsfield Hogan and future ‘Irish Times’ cricket correspondent Paul McWeeney.

Another ‘Irish Times’ writer, Sean Pender, interviewed Hogan many years later and he related an incident from a UCD v Phoenix game in the early 1920s.

E L Kidd, a former Middlesex batsman who came to work in Dublin and played several times for Ireland, made a century, but his innings was finally brought to an end by A G Francis.

Hogan recalled: “A fine athlete running fast, who made the catch and hurdled the boundary rail in the same movement. The umpire had then to decide whether the catch had been made in the air inside or outside the rail! It sounds like a ‘fisherman’s tale’. But it is true.”

That 1921 season was his best for the club, and perhaps was the main reason UCD did not finish bottom of the league, as they did every season from 1919 until they dropped out for good in 1926.

In 16 games, Francis scored 402 runs at an average of 26, including an unbeaten 113 against Pembroke, who finished below them at season’s end. That game was played in Lakelands, Terenure, where UCD continued to play cricket and other sports until 1935 and is now the VEC Sportsgrounds.

Francis continued to play for UCD but 1921 was his highpoint. The following season he made 192 runs in 15 matches, averaging 12.8, and appeared in a newspaper listing that July for having passed his 3rd year exams.

He had a strange start to the 1923 season, which may have been controversial but the records are now lost. On May 5th he turned out for Civil Service against Pembroke, and four days later played for UCD against Railway, scoring 11no when rain caused the game to be abandoned.

That was his last appearance for UCD, as the next week he was back with the Phoenix Park club, for whom he turned out 15 times, scoring 137 runs at 9. The next year, 1924, he was an ever present for Service, making 222 runs with a high score of 47.

His final season in Leinster was 1925, when he scored a second century, 125no, against a strong Phoenix side.

It has been hard to trace Francis after he graduated, but it appears he may have played one game for a St Kitts XI against a touring Bermuda side in Brooklyn later in 1925. Back in the Caribbean he became involved in football, and was manager of the Trinidad and Tobago team that went to Barbados for a three match series in 1944 – winning 1-0.

He was also a founder of the Trinidad Cricket Council in 1956 with Lord Learie Constantine.

Francis was educated at Queens’ Royal College in Port-of-Spain, and was elevated to that school’s hall of fame in 1999. He also received the second highest State honour in T&T, the Chaconia Medal Gold, which “honours long and meritorious service to promote national welfare or community spirit”.

His daughter paid this tribute when he died: “My father was a Christian in the truest sense of the word. He gave of himself tirelessly. As a doctor, he was never in it for money. He was committed to helping and healing before all else.”