|Born||21 April 1899 Rathmines, Dublin|
|Died||12 January 1937 Monkstown, Dublin|
|Educated||Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare; Dublin University|
|Debut||19 July 1924 v Scotland at Forthill, Broughty Ferry|
|Teams||Dublin University; Pembroke; City of Derry; Cork County|
|History||Arthur Robinson, tall and strongly built, was a stylish right hand batsman, who, perhaps, never quite fulfilled the expectations raised by his undoubted talent. This may well have been because, like many other sportsmen of his generation, his career was interrupted by war at a crucial stage. He was 22 before he first played senior cricket in 1921, immediately cementing a place in the Dublin University XI, which, when available, he held for the next five years, winning his colours each season and captaining the side in 1924. In all 1st XI matches he scored 1481 runs at 22.78. His only hundreds, two, came in his first two seasons, both in the League, in which he aggregated 1103 runs at 29.81 hitting three fifties in both 1923 and 1924. |
A strong driving front foot player, he was seen at his best on hard fast wickets, particularly on the English tour of 1924. The tourists were outplayed in all their matches bar one. This was the Wimbledon CC game, when a remarkable 10-40 by paceman Derrick Kennedy brought victory after the visitors had needed Arthur's 45 to be able to set a realistic target. They had lost heavily to Hampton CC, being bowled out for 198, a score made almost entirely by three batsmen. Arthur and FH "Derrick" Hall each made 46, while "Jacko" Heaslip topscored with 55. Arthur stood alone, however, in the defeat by Richmond, making an elegant 66, his highest score of the season. The tour over, he returned to the Leinster Senior League and continued his good form with 62 against Leinster at Rathmines. He also held three catches in Leinster's first innings, but rain caused this two day match to be drawn.
He also made two appearances for the University against county opposition. Against Derbyshire batting at No 10, Burton on Trent in 1921, he failed badly with 0 run out and 2, but did rather better against Northamptonshire at Rushden three years later, in a match designated first class, though, by this time, the University were no longer worthy of such status. Opening the batting, in the first innings, but batting at 7 in the second, Arthur made 10 and 24 thus reaching double figures in both knocks, more than several of his team-mates managed. Two future Test umpires helped in his dismissals. In the first innings he was caught by Claude Woolley, brother of Frank, off paceman John Murdin. Claude was a good all rounder who later stood in one Test. In the second, Arthur was stumped off the spin of the diminutive "Fanny" Walden, also an excellent footballer for Spurs and England, who umpired several Tests after his retirement from his two games.
Arthur's club cricket after leaving University became somewhat peripatetic. He played a number of matches for Pembroke, without ever scaling the heights with any consistency. When work took him to the North West during the 1930s, he was seen in the City of Derry colours. Though he played with a fair degree of regularity in 1935, turning out in the annual Whit Monday county match with Tyrone, he was never a heavy scorer. When City lost a remarkable and tense Cup Final to Sion Mills in that year, he was not in the side.
His last match, of which a score has been seen, was for Cork County against Na Shuler in 1936, the first time this long standing fixture had been played since 1913, the Shulers having been revived. He was by far the top scorer of the match on either side. Batting first the visitors were put out for 112, but rallied to dismiss their host for 108., Opening the batting, Arthur showed that the bowling and the wicket could be overcome with a fine 52 before he was leg before to Hampshire and Ireland all rounder Tom Jameson. The next highest score was 13. Batting again, the Shulers totalled 216, thus setting the County a formidable target. That they got close, going down by 34 runs, was almost entirely due to Arthur, who hit a magnificent 85 dominating a varied attack. The next highest was 36.
Unfortunately, Arthur had given only glimpses of such form in his nine appearances for Ireland. Fifteen innings brought him only 194 runs at 12.93, his highest score - 32 - being made twice.
The first such innings was against MCC at Ormeau in August 1926. The Irish side was far from the usual XI, as several local players had been included in an attempt to boost the gate. It was also weakened by several withdrawals, though Arthur had been an original selection. It was a two day game and was doomed to a draw when the first was washed out. Nevertheless some good cricket was seen. Ireland won the toss and Arthur opened with veteran NICC all rounder William Pollock. The latter was soon out but Arthur, putting on 51 for the second wicket with Finlay Jackson, batted brightly, for what has been described as, "A very useful 32." He was dismissed by a multi named leg spinner, Erroll Hamish Lindsay Gordon Sinclair, who was to die at sea 28 years later.
The other 32 came against the Scots at Raeburn Place in July 1928. This was a magnificent match, ending in a draw with the hosts' last pair together, Scotland owing their survival to a wonderfully good innings by that great batsman, John Kerr. Ireland had begun very well with Arthur and TJ Macdonald posting 75 for the first wicket. "TJ" went on to a well deserved hundred but Arthur falling for 32, perhaps missed his chance to do likewise in excellent batting conditions. He was, furthermore, out to the slow left arm of Willie Drinnan, who thus gained his only wicket for Scotland, though he took almost 1500 in club cricket for Ayr.
However what was probably Arthur's best, though not highest, innings for Ireland, had come just weeks earlier. This was in the famous victory over the West Indies at College Park. It is best remembered for George McVeagh's superb second innings hundred and crucial catches, but the win would not have been obtained without several other key performances, one of which was Arthur's.
Sent in to open with football international Louis Bookman, he had to face the hostile attack of Herman Griffith and Joe Small. Both may have been just short of genuine pace, but there would have been few, if any, bowlers in Ireland at the time who surpassed their speed. Ireland were reduced to 19-2, but then Arthur, playing really well, was joined by his captain Jim Ganly, and 60 was added for the third wicket, before Arthur fended off a Small bouncer to short leg. He was out for 31, an infinitely more skilful and valuable innings than those 32s. Ireland reached 173, then bowled the visitors out to gain a first innings lead of 31, showing the importance of Arthur's contribution. He made only 15 in the second innings but his opening stand of 39 with Bookman extended the lead. He had, undoubtedly, greatly helped to set the scene for McVeagh's heroics.
Arthur Joseph Herbert Robinson may not have achieved all that might have been expected of him on the cricket field, but his part in that epic victory ensures his place in Irish cricket history.
Edward Liddle, November 2009
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