|Born||6 December 1937 Calcutta, (now Kolkata), India|
|Died||9 December 2017, Dublin|
|Educated||Shrewsbury School; Oxford University|
|Occupation||Professional Cricketer and Cricket Coach|
|Debut||5 August 1968 v Australia at Ormeau|
|Style||Right-hand bat, wicket keeper|
|Teams||LC Steven's XI, Oxford University, Sussex, Clontarf, Old Belvedere|
|History||Robin Waters was a strongly built right hand batsman, usually seen opening the innings or at No 3. He was also a good wicket keeper, though he only fulfilled this role for Ireland in an emergency. Some critics have described his career as being disappointing, pointing to the fact that he never quite established himself in English first class cricket, and, that his record in Irish cricket, while certainly useful, was, perhaps, less than might have been expected for a player of his experience. Be that as it may, and the cognoscenti of Castle Avenue and Cabra might question the last judgement, he had many sound performances to his credit and was always in demand throughout a long career. |
Born in India, but educated in England, he was three years in the XI at Shrewsbury School, being captain in his final season, 1956. His most prolific season was his first when he was the leading run scorer with 311 runs, including two fifties. The best of these was an undefeated innings in the annual two day fixture with Rossal School from the Lancashire coast. In a low scoring match, his second innings 50* was crucial as his side chased down a, by no means easy, target of 95 to win by 10 wickets. The Rossal captain was DA Rutherford later to be a reliable England Rugby full back, his side also included ISG Foster destined to become, for reasons not altogether cricketing ones, a legend in the vicinity of College Park! "Joes" Foster was, however, a fine batsman, who captained Dublin University to cup success in 1961.
Robin made his first class debut for Colonel LC Steven's XI v Cambridge University at Eastbourne in 1960, in a type of fixture long since banished from the first class calendar. He made only 10, playing just as a batsman, the gloves being worn by KS Indrajitsinhji, an Indian test player, and nephew of the great "Duleep." Robin caught future Glamorgan and England captain, and much else besides, Tony Lewis for 125, but the match is best remembered as Sir Leonard Hutton's last first class appearance in England. He was bowled by off spinner Alan Hurd for 0. Len was, of course, to play one more first class match. Later that summer he opened the batting for MCC v Ireland in College Park being stumped Colhoun off Huey for 89.
Up at Oxford the following summer, Robin gained a place in the XI, his superior batting skills enabling him to see off a challenge from NL Majendie, who was later to keep in several matches for Surrey. Robin kept tidily, besides making several useful contributions with the bat, at 8 or 9, as his highest score 37 ct Sharpe b Illingworth, against the full Yorkshire attack, suggests. He had already been selected to play at Lord's, when just before the University match, tragedy struck.
The Oxford captain that year was "Tiger" the Nawab of Pataudi who had destroyed county attacks with a brilliance which suggested that a very great player had arrived. On an evening during the Sussex match at Hove, Pataudi and Robin were in a car accident which badly damaged the former's right eye, leaving it permanently almost useless. He became a very good Test batsman, (and the central figure in a Jeffrey Archer short story!) but the genius was lost. Robin was unable to play in the University match either, Charles Fry, grandson of CB and much later MCC President already in the side as a batsman took over the gloves. What Majendie made of this has not been recorded. Robin did recover sufficiently to play one match for Sussex and also to turn out for the County's 2nd XI, details of which follow later.
The following season he played eight matches for Oxford, but according to Wisden, "was unable to recover his touch." Fry was still in residence, captaining the side, but Majndie kept wicket at Lord's, though the decision was not made until just before the University match. When Robin played, he continued to bat usefully. There was another 30 odd against Yorkshire and against Worcestershire, who failed by only 4 points to take the Championship, he made 59 and 37. In the first innings he put on 97 for the 7th wicket with Eric Marsh, who, like Robin, was to be denied a Blue at the last minute. Marsh later played with some success for Shropshire. Robin's half century was brought to an end by medium pacer Jim Standen, the last first class cricketer to play in an FA Cup Final, an honour he wrested from the late Noel Cantwell. Though missing out on his Blue, Robin went on to play six matches for Sussex that summer. Interestingly, these were as wicket keeper, even though Jim Parks, who had already kept for England in six Tests, and was to do so in a further 39 was in the side. Parks was a fine batsman, who scored almost 37000 first class runs, but as a wicket keeper he was more Geraint Jones than Adam Gilchrist. However it still seems strange that he was replaced as keeper by someone unable to hold his place in the Oxford XI.
Between 1961 and 1966, Robin played, with increasing regularity, for Sussex 2nd XI, usually opening the batting, and, sometimes, keeping wicket. His highest score was 99, made in 1965, when he scored a season's best 680 runs. However one of his best matches was his first. This was against Leicestershire 2nd XI at a school ground in Leicester. His 75 was the top score, though he was unable to give his team a first innings lead. This was ensured for the hosts by a gritty 65 from their nervous looking opening batsman HD Bird. "Dickie" had to put up with some tearaway pace bowling by a young "quickie" called Snow! Robin's brushes with the future also occurred in 1966 when his catches at the wicket accounted for a fair proportion of the wickets taken by a young South African, on trial for the County, called Tony Grieg. That year also saw Robin anchor a run chase against Gloucestershire Seconds, as Sussex successfully achieved an unlikely target of 223 to win by 8 wickets, leaving him on 88*.
In 1967 he took up a coaching appointment at Clontarf and made an immediate impact. The Clontarf Centenary Brochure described him as having, "three phenomenal seasons" and added that he was, "also an excellent coach" He scored 1496 competitive runs for the Club between 1967 - 1969 at 37.40, with two centuries and nine 50s. Both "tons" were away v Leinster: 120* in 1967 and 110 the following season. He narrowly missed the Marchant Cup and also hit a Guinness Cup hundred for North Leinster. It was, therefore no surprise that he was selected for Ireland in 1968. It must be said that his performances probably did not quite match expectations. In his 11 matches he scored 330 runs at 19.14, with only one half century, 70 v Scotland in a drawn match at Hamilton Crescent in 1968, batting at 3. This was his highest first class score. He shared in two worthwhile partnerships; 68 for the second wicket with David Pigot and 79 for the 3rd with Ivan Anderson, (who else?). Ireland still needed to be saved from a potentially disastrous 171-6, Pat Dineen and Alec O'Riordan coming to the rescue. At the end of the season Robin made a useful 38 in the second innings of the MCC match at Castle Avenue. The game was badly interfered with by rain, but when Ireland lost two quick wickets in their second innings, there was just the chance of a collapse and an MCC win. Robin (38) stood firm and by the time he was stumped off the former Middlesex opening bat Bob Gale the match was safe.
He was to play three useful innings the following summer, one of them probably match saving. In mid June Scotland came to Clontarf and departed victorious by 82 runs. Opening the batting, Robin top scored in the first innings with 41, otherwise only Dineen (40) and fast bowler "Podge" Hughes (35) could make much of the Scottish spinners. Robin followed this with 26 in the second innings after which the Irish innings folded Anderson, who looked in little trouble on a turning wicket, being stranded on 40*.
July saw the West Indies play two matches. The first was "The Miracle of Sion Mills," they then moved on to Ormeau, determined on revenge. Ireland just escaped with a draw, in no small way due to Robin again contributing a first innings 41, top score, defying the pace of Vanburn Holder, now a respected English umpire, who took 5-40 as Ireland were put out for 126. A failure here would have meant that the hosts would almost certainly have lost. Instead the local media claimed "IRELAND WIN THE SERIES" His final match was at Lord's where MCC, thanks to Gale hitting two centuries, won by 35 runs. Another 41 from Robin, this time in the second innings, was not enough. Critics might, and did, argue that a batsman of his calibre once past 40 should have been able to go much further. However without his runs Ireland would have fared much worse in the matches under discussion.
In 1969 Ireland played three non cap matches v International Cavaliers, a star studded side. Robin was only available for one match, at Sydney Parade and captained the side because Dougie Goodwin did not play. However arguably his best innings for a representative Irish team came at The Mardyke when he guested for Munster against Pakistan International Airways. This team captained by the legendary Hanif Mohammed, contained 10 players who had or would play Test Cricket. Robin (21) had top scored in Ireland's first innings of 73 when PIA had disposed of the national side in two days on a turning pitch at Sydney Parade, now, in near perfect batting conditions, Robin ran up 75, as helped by Dineen, he helped Munster to 219-6 declared, being dismissed by off spinner Shafqat Rana. Unfortunately Munster collapsed in the second innings to allow PIA a fourth victory on their Irish tour, Robin being out hit wicket to fastman Asif Masood, whose name later caused such trouble, real or contrived, for BBC commentator Brian Johnston.
Robin left Clontarf at the end of the summer and did not play for Ireland again, though a coaching appointment at Belvedere College meant that he was not lost to Dublin cricket. He took his Guinness Cup aggreate to 3068 runs at 28.50, but was unable to add a further hundred to his tally. He continued to score runs for years to come for Old Belvedere but not quite with the same ease and consistency as before. His final Senior Cricket Season in Dublin was 1986, when he played twice for the Cabra team but scored only 3 and 1. He finished in Leinster Competitive Cricket with 6072 runs at 24.30. He added no further hundreds to his tally of 3, but hit a further twenty three fifties.
Edward Liddle, April 2008, updates December 2017
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