Simon Andrew Curley

BornPembroke, Dublin, 21 July 1917
Died11 March 1989, Dublin
EducatedCatholic University School, Dublin
Debut16 June 1948 v Yorkshire at Ormeau
Cap Number438
StyleLeft-hand bat, slow left arm
TeamsMerrion, Cork Bohemians, Cork County
HistorySimon Curley was a strongly built, attacking; middle order left hander who scored heavily for Merrion for three decades. His run aggregate, impressive as it is, would probably have been around the 10000 mark, had he not spent three summers in Cork, where he represented Bohemians and the County. His Irish career record may not carry the same ring about it, but when strong opposition, somewhat poor wickets, and nothing like today's preparation, are taken into account, it is perfectly respectable.

Curley learnt his cricket at CUS in Dublin, then a good cricket school. Happily this is now the case once more as the game has been revived there. He made his Merrion senior debut aged 17 and soon became an essential member of the side. In all he scored 9510 runs for the club at an average of 29.85 with 8 hundreds and 59 fifties. His highest score, 175, came against Leinster in the Cup in 1951. He dominated an innings of 307 - no over restrictions then - before going on to take 3-40, thus playing a leading role in the 58 runs victory. He won the Marchant Cup that year and again in 1958, averaging 59 on both occasions. His slow left arm bowling, which relied more on accuracy, change of pace and flight than any sharply imparted spin, brought him 356 wickets at 18 with a best bowling of 7-59 against Malahide in 1954. Merrion won two Cup Finals during his career, on each occasion his contribution was vital. In 1940, on an awkward Sydney Parade wicket, Leinster were bowled out for 121, with only Frank Connell making a score. Merrion found batting no easier as Irish off spinner JR Graham took 5-40. However Curley (61) stood firm to prepare the way for a 3-wicket win.

In 1960, in another low scoring match, this time at Castle Avenue, Clontarf could manage only 105 against the pace of Rodney Bernstein. Ernie Bodell worried the Merrion batsmen but Simon saw his team to a 4 wicket victory with a dogged 48*. He also had an outstanding match in a losing cause in a first round encounter with Leinster in 1960. The Rathmines side batted first and totalled 249, thanks to a fine 117 from RW Harris. Simon with 3-39 returned the best bowling figures. Merrion were never really in the hunt and owed the fact that t they got within 40 runs of their target to Simon who made a defiant 62. When he succumbed to the off spin of Trinity medical student Cecil Inglis the match was as good as lost, Inglis finished with 4-59.

In his years in Munster cricket, he appeared for Cork County against a scratch side dubbed "English Counties" in 1948 and 1949. In the first match, he contributed 31 to a score of 247, which proved a winning total as the wicket broke up in the visitors' second innings. The following year he starred as a bowler taking 3-3 against batsmen of the calibre of Reg Simpson, who hit a brilliant Test hundred that summer, and future Derbyshire captain Guy Willat. No doubt Cork County's guest player, John Hill (5-66), had plenty to say about batsmen picking up cheap wickets!

Simon was, for several years, a regular in the South side against the North, but in only one match did he show his true form. This was the game at Rathmines in 1951. He came in at 3 with 59 on the board and immediately took charge of a powerful North attack. His 119, which included 11 fours and 4 sixes, came out of 185 added while he was at the wicket including a 7th wicket partnership of 124 with Jimmy Boucher (45). Both men had their innings ended by Scott Huey, Simon being caught by Noel Ferguson. The South finished on 244-8 declared. Any hopes of a home win however were dashed by the weather and a memorable hundred from Stuart Pollock.

For Ireland he made his debut in 1948 at Ormeau when rain saved Ireland, following a first innings collapse against the Yorkshire pace attack of Coxon and Aspinall. Later that summer came his best match for Ireland v Scotland at Glasgow's Hamilton Crescent ground. Ireland won by 118 runs with the Merrion man contributing 18 and 43. Batting at 5, he put on 78 with Stuart Pollock in a second innings 4th wicket partnership, clearly a crucial stand. At the season's end he had another good partnership, with debut centurion JR Gill v MCC. They put on 64 for the fifth wicket as Gill neared three figures. Rain caused a draw. He was involved in rather a different partnership v Scotland at College Park in 1951. He made 34 out of 45 put on in a 4th wicket stand with SF Bergin (72*). Ireland declared and lost by three wickets. Presumably Stanley was in one of his more obdurate moods. Simon Curley was four months short of his 72nd birthday when he died.

His obituary is in Wisden 1990.

Edward Liddle, May 2007, updated August 2011, MAy 2015

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