Louis Collins Jacobson

Born26 January 1918 Dublin
Died6 December 2013
EducatedWesley College, Dublin; Dublin University
Debut20 August 1947 v MCC at Lord's
Cap Number435
StyleRight-hand bat, wicket keeper.
TeamsDublin University, Clontarf, Carlisle
HistoryLouis Jacobson was a very correct opening batsman who was largely self-taught. In the words of the Dublin University History, "He was one of those lucky individuals who could read a coaching book and then go out and reproduce its contents on the cricket pitch." It was said that he had read every conceivable instructional manual on the game and that he practised for hours in front of a mirror. Noel Mahony, his Clontarf opening partner of many years, who knew a thing or two about coaching, once said that if Louis failed to make the right shot to a particular ball it was because he had skipped a page in the coaching book! However he was a very good player whose senior career spanned four decades. "Probably the greatest technician ever to play for the club," said Clontarf's Centenary Brochure in 1976, adding that, "his backfoot play was superb."

For the Dublin University History he was, "Arguably the best batsman of the War years. "He was also a very good wicket keeper at University, though never a full time occupant of the post at Castle Avenue. Here he gave way to such accomplished glovemen as Frank Filgas and Joe Bell. Only as a fieldsman was he less than top class, being somewhat immobile. Legend has it that in the MCC v Ireland match at Lord's in 1953, the 52 year old former England captain Bob Wyatt ran six to him at fine leg! An outstanding schoolboy cricketer at Wesley College, he entered Dublin University as a medical student in 1935, gaining a place in the XI the following summer, though he was not always available. He did, however, become established in the side in 1938, and, in 1940, scored the first and highest of his five senior centuries: 107* v Pembroke in College Park. In 1942 he totalled 416 runs in the brief University season, the best aggregate since Bobby Barnes' 421 in 1932. The University won the Senior Cup in 1938 and were defeated finalists in 1941, but Louis did not make a significant contribution in either match. He had four competitive fifties for the Club two each in the 1940 and 1941 seasons.

He was then two seasons in London, as a junior doctor in the City's hospitals, before returning to Dublin, general practice and his long association with Clontarf. From the summer of 1944 until the end of the 1960 season, he was an automatic selection, when available. Owing to his medical duties appearances were sometimes rather spasmodic, or he would have considerably enlarged on his 4023 runs at 29.58. He hit four centuries, the highest of which was 103* v Railway Union at Park Avenue in 1950.

The summer of 1959 was his best for the Club, though he was then 41 years old, and had last played for Ireland some six years previously. For several seasons he had put medical matters and family cares first, but had been available some what more regularly in 1957. This had enabled him to score 446 runs at 55.75 and take the runners up spot in the Marchant Cup. His runs included 100 v Leinster at home in the Cup. Thus encouraged, he accepted the captaincy of the Club for 1959. It was one of the finest summers of a miserably wet decade and Louis celebrated in style. Besides being recalled to Irish colours, albeit unsuccessfully, he won the Marchant Cup with 492 runs at 49.20, including 100*, 103 and 91* in successive innings, The Club's Trophy Cabinet was bare, but Louis was able to add the prized Oulton Cup awarded to the member of each Clontarf side who has contributed most on and off the field, to the Marchant and so conclude a memorable season. In 1960, he was captain again and took Clontarf to the Cup Final v Merrion. The match, according to the Clontarf Centenary Brochure," was a truly bizarre affair." Appalling weather meant that, played to a finish, it took 8 days to complete. Merrion eventually won a low scoring contest by 4 wickets, thanks to Simon Curley, seeing off some hostile bowling by Ernie Bodell. However Louis top scored with 34 out of 104 as Rodney Bernstein exploited the conditions well to take 7/41. It was his last major match for the Castle Avenue side and a fitting tribute to his skill.

He was President of Clontarf from 1966 to 1968, also returning to senior cricket with the now defunct Carlisle Club, made up of members of Dublin's Jewish cricket community. His religion also found him representing a British and Irish side at the Maccabean Games, where cricket has often featured. He was also pleased to be followed into both the University and Carlisle teams by his son Dennis.

For Ireland he played 12 matches scoring 358 runs at 18.84. He began well opening the bating at Lord's v MCC in 1947 with fellow debutant and club opening partner Noel Mahony. They put on 83 before Louis (46) was out to a return catch by medium pacer Benjamin Waddy, who was a member of a well known Anglo-Australian cricket and clerical family, his father having been both an old Oxford blue and Secretary for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Louis failed in the second innings, but had done much to set up a rare victory. That summer Louis and Noel also opened for Leinster, the province, against Derbyshire and put on 91 against a strong seam attack. He also did well in the Lord's match two years later with 34 and 30, falling in the first innings to a catch off the bowling of former Somerset captain RJO Meyer founder of the elite and ultra expensive Millfield School.

Louis' best match for Ireland was the Scots game of 1950 at North Inch, Perth. After collapsing in their first innings (Boucher 7-18) the hosts recovered to set Ireland 256 to win. They finished on 213/8 with "Jacobson showing sound defence and determination in a lengthy innings which prevented a likely defeat." (Wisden). He had opened the innings with Stan Bergin and finished on 101*, the next highest score was Jimmy Boucher's 32.

In 1952, the Indian tourists played two matches in Ireland. They swept the hosts aside in College Park, with Louis falling twice for single figure scores to the pace of Oxford Blue RV Divecha, one of India's best fast bowlers in the days before Kapil Dev made quick bowling popular there. India would have won at Ormeau as well, had it not been for the rain and Louis, who when Ireland needed 139 to avoid an innings defeat, made 41* from a miserable 68-6. There were three ducks, the next highest score being Tom McCloy's 8! As Wisden commented, "Jacobson was the only batsman to reach double figures in Ireland's second innings." This biography concludes with two personal memories of Louis. The MCC match in College Park in September 1952 was ruined by rain, but on the final morning the Derbyshire amateur Tom Hall, then one of the faster bowlers in county cricket, who was later to fall from a train in circumstances which suggested suicide, worked up a fair pace as Louis began Ireland's second knock with Bergin. An impressionable eight year old now this writer, almost felt the blow, as Louis, helmetless of course, hooked at a Hall bouncer which smashed into his face. The abiding memory is one of admiration. How, thought the cricket mad child, could a batsman have even attempted to stand up to what seemed an unplayable fast ball, let alone play a gloriously risky shot at it? Fast forward six years to a placid Saturday afternoon at Castle Avenue. Eddie Ingram had brought a side to play a Clontarf XI to mark the opening of the new, and present, ground. Bill Edrich and Dennis Compton were included. Now an equally cricket mad 14 year old, the writer, accompanied by two similarly obsessed friends, had gained leave from boarding school for an afternoon, to watch his heroes. Bill was already out by the time we arrived. He had been consuming the produce of his captain's employers somewhat liberally! Compton came in and at once turned a ball to Louis at short leg. He made a great show of dropping it to loud applause from the crowd! The Brylcream Boy went on to make a quick 25, revealing the famous sweep to our admiring eyes. Then, possibly also wishing to sample the skipper's wares, he it across a full toss and ambled back to the pavilion. I remain, to this day, grateful to Louis Collins Jacobson for passing up his own moment of glory to allow us the sight of a wonder in full cry.

Edward Liddle, March 2008

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