|Born||18 December 1927 Belfast|
|Died||17 April 2018 Belfast|
|Educated||Belfast Technical High School|
|Debut||16 July 1958 v New Zealand at Ormeau|
|Style||Right hand bat, right arm medium pace|
|Teams||Belfast Technical HS Old Boys, Cliftonville, Woodvale|
|History||Wilson Scott was a very good, brisk medium pacer who was a force in NCU cricket at both senior and junior level for more than two decades. He was, perhaps, unlucky to be discarded from the national side after only four matches, but never let this affect his enthusiasm for the game. "Cricket was my first sporting love, " he said in a recent interview for the Woodvale website, "and I would not change anything." The same interview revealed that he first began to play cricket because his mother thought it was a "clean game." As all the players wore whites, she would not have to wash his clothes. One wonders how much ball polishing and diving in the field young Wilson did while still in the family home! |
After playing for BHTS Old Boys on leaving school, he joined Cliftonville in 1950, playing for them for the next ten seasons. Their relegation at the end of the 50s caused him to join Woodvale, having been persuaded to do so by Larry Warke. Some members of his old club never forgave him.
In the above mentioned interview, he recalled returning to Cliftonville, several years later by which time he had been dropped from Woodvale 1st XI, the match being against Enfield, Cliftonville's second team. The visitors were put out for 75 and thought that the match was gone. Wilson, goaded by comments from some of his former club mates rallied them, "We're three times as good as they are, " he said. He proceeded to take 8 wickets for 6 runs! Always regarded as a somewhat negligible batsman, he recalled one match, a cup tie with Holywood, while he was still with Cliftonville. He came in at 11, with 8 runs wanted. He skied his first ball and set off for a run. As the fielder Con McCall, positioned himself for the match winning catch, Wilson's partner shouted for another run. Con dropped the ball and the batsmen scrambled home for the second run. Wilson hit the next ball out of the ground to win the match.
His time with Woodvale saw one NCU Challenge Cup Final against Lisburn at Ormeau in 1961. Played on a spinners' wicket, it resulted in an 8 wicket defeat for the Ballygomartin Roaders, despite a remarkable all round performance by Ken Kirkpatrick. Unfortunately for Woodvale while they had one top class spinner, their opponents had two, with the left arm combination of Jack Bowden and a teenage "Monty" sweeping all before them. Bowling Tom McCloy for 22 in Lisburn's first innings, Wilson took one of the few wickets in the match to fall to pace. In his later years with the Club, he captained both the Seconds and Thirds, leading each side to trophies. He was reputed to bowl about 25 overs an innings, "because nobody could get the ball off him."
His Irish debut in 1958 had been preceded by representative appearances for Ulster and NCU sides. I recall seeing him bowl for the NCU against a Free Forester side at Ormeau on an exceptionally bleak September day in 1957. The Foresters, who were a rather poor side, had come north, having been overwhelmed by the full Irish XI at Rathmines the previous weekend. The details of the Ormeau match now escape me, but I have a clear memory that the visiting batsmen showed a marked lack of desire to get into line against either Wilson or Wesley Ferris and were bowled out for a small score.
Earlier that season he had a fine match for the North against the South at Ormeau. The North had batted first and been bowled out by Ken Hope (5-16) for 145. The South managed 157-9 declared in reply with Wilson having the remarkable figures of 26-15-27-5, removing Stan Bergin early on and later including Alec O'Riordan and Gerry Duffy in his haul. Set a target of 139 to win in their second innings, the South lost Paddy Neville to Wilson without a run on the board, but eventually batted out time to finish on 49-5, Wilson, accuracy personified having taken 1-4 in six overs.
Wilson's international debut came at the same venue in somewhat similar conditions the following June against New Zealand. The NZ side was probably the weakest they have ever sent to these islands. They lost the Test series 4-0, with rain saving them at The Oval. They had no answer to the pace of Trueman and Statham and the spin of Laker and Lock. In Belfast they bowled Ireland out for 130, Wilson in his usual position, one above the roller, being 4* at the end. The visitors were then bowled out for 208 with Wilson having the commendable figures of 24.1-4-31-2. He had all rounder Tony McGibbon, one of the few successes of the Tests, brilliantly caught by Aubrey Finlay at square leg, and trapped John Alabaster, a leg spinner, lbw. He did not bowl again as, thanks to Finlay and Cambridge Blue Robin O'Brien, Ireland saved the match. Wilson was bowled by the part time off spin of Neil Harford for 2. Harford a stylish batsman, who later was to take his own life, made little impact on the Test series but scored over 1000 runs in the season.
Rain again dominated the one day match in College Park, in which Wilson, making light of a damp ball, bowled splendidly. The Kiwis made 182-4 before declaring, Wilson's figures being 9.1-1-33-3. He had opener Trevor Meale taken at leg slip by Finlay and then bowled batsman Bill Playle and had all rounder John Sparling caught behind by Walter Fawcett In the Tests Sparling twice and Playle once defied the powerful England attack, headed by Lock at his most vicious spinning and illegal best, for long periods in the Test series. Though both were young and inexperienced players, their wickets were thus considerable feathers in Wilson's cap.
Unfortunately the Irish selectors did not agree. The Scots match at Ayr was rain ruined, Wilson taking 0-9. However he then failed to take a wicket against Worcestershire in College Park in the penultimate fixture. His figures were 0-40 in the County's only innings. It was, however a spinners wicket with Bob Berry a former England spinner and Martin Horton a future one, twice destroying the hosts' batting. In unhelpful conditions, Wilson, sharing the new ball with a teenager called O'Riordan, made little impact in unhelpful conditions. As the visitors' top 5 included one current Test player in the captain Peter Richardson, two former ones in Don Kenyon and "Dick" Richardson and a future one in Horton, his failure to take a wicket is perhaps unsurprising. Selected in the 12 for the MCC match at the same venue the following week, he was left out on the morning of the match, the selectors deciding to play three spinners, one of whom, Ken Hope, bowled only10 overs in the match. Wilson had made some impression against Worcestershire as a batsman . In the first innings he came in at 92/9 and promptly hit Martin Horton, a very good off spinner, for an enormous six. In the second, again facing Horton, he averted a hat trick with a model forward defensive.
Hugh Wilson Scott was as suggested above, probably prematurely discarded from the Irish side. He can however content himself with the thought that all his wickets for Ireland were those of Test cricketers. Few others can claim that distinction.
NB I am indebted to the interview with Wilson Scott to be found along with several other interesting ones on the Woodvale CC website.
Edward Liddle, October 2010, updated 2015, April 2018
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