Edward Liddle (CricketEurope)
Former Irish international John Cochrane has died at the age of 91. There can't be many cricketers who made their debuts at the age of 41 while already a grandfather, but he was quite a remarkable all-rounder.
By way of tribute, we reproduce Edward Liddle's biography below and extend our condolences to his family circle.
John Lowry Cochrane
John Cochrane, a tall dark haired man was a very good all-round cricketer. An upper order batsman, until the final seasons of his career, he was usually at No 1, scoring seven senior hundreds from this position.
At a brisk left arm medium pace, which he could vary well, he was an awkward proposition either opening the attack or with an older ball. He had a string of impressive figures to prove his worth.
He came from a well known cricket family which, over the years has done much for North West cricket in general and Donemana in particular. His grandfather, also John, had played for the Club in the first ever NWCU Cup Final in 1888 and, having then represented the powerful Clooney side for a number of years, returned to Donemana and played for them in the Intermediate Cup Final of 1927.
Twenty years earlier he had bowled Clooney to cup victory over Buncrana with match figures of 13-50, while in 1911 he took 6-7 to bowl Waterside out for 24 and render the rest of the proceedings somewhat academic. His grandson thus had a considerable heritage to live up to.
A Donemana regular from the late 1940s, until having moved to the coast at Portstewart he joined Coleraine in 1974, John, as a batsman, first came into real prominence in 1951 with a well received 95 in a 5 wicket win over Brigade. He was to repeat this score against the same opponents the following season, before hitting his maiden hundred against Ardmore in 1953.
This, a score of exactly the three figure mark, was a brilliant knock made out of 125-1 as a 9 wicket victory was achieved. His last hundred was scored in 1973 at the age of 45. His left arm medium pace also had a significant impact on the game in the North West and was eventually to gain him belated international recognition.
Three of his performances for Donemana in the NW senior league may be mentioned, though many others would also qualify. Thus against Eglinton in 1960, he had 6-11 to dismiss these doughty opponents for 22 and set up an 8 wicket victory. The following season he destroyed the City of Derry line up with 8-42 but bettered this in 1963 taking 8-20 against Brigade who were bowled out for 50.
He invariably played a major part in Donemana's cup campaigns often shining in the Final. Thus in 1964 he hit 112, his highest score in senior cricket - though he later equalled it - to help his side to total 231 in the first innings against Brigade. Then when Brigade faced the difficult task of chasing 284 to win he brought any dreams of victory they may have harboured crashing to earth with 6/87. His bowling was again the main reason for trophy lifting in 1967 when he had match figures of 13-71, including a devastating, career best 9/32 in the second innings, setting up a 5 wicket victory.
However one of his most remarkable Cup Final performances had come in a losing cause v St Johnston in 1959. The Donegal side were able to set Donemana 230 to win after a closely fought struggle for a first innings lead. In the end they won with some comfort but for a long time the result had looked in doubt as John hit a superb 101.
He also appeared in one NCU cup match for City of Derry against the now long disbanded St Mary's in 1960. City were victorious largely thanks to an undefeated 60 from John. City expressed their gratitude to him by getting him for 0 in the League the following week. Incidentally, their commitments in the NW Cup meant that they were unable to continue in the NCU competition.
John's career in major representative cricket began in 1952 when, following a good innings for NWCU in the annual bank holiday match with NCU, he was chosen for the North v South trial match. However it was to be many years before the national selectors took any further really positive notice of him.
He was a few days short of his 38th birthday when the Guinness Cup began in 1966 but he was an immediate and automatic selection for the North West side. It has to be said that in the five years in which he played in the competition, his performances while consistent were useful rather than outstanding, apart from one match.
His all round ability, however, was shown in the 1967 season. Against Ulster Country at Muckamore only John (17) and Brendan Donaghey (29) reached double figures as the inevitable "Monty" spun their side out for 94. One other double figure score would probably have brought victory as the hosts got home by three wickets, John applying pressure with a tight spell that included the valuable wicket of Alfie Linehan.
Later in the season at Rathmines he hit 38 against South Leinster being one of the few to shape confidently against the deceptive guile of Gerry Duffy. The visitors came away victorious with Scott Huey spinning the hosts out for 94. At Malahide he had 2-19 as North Leinster reached 168-9. His wickets were most important ones, Gerry O'Brien, in full cry, for 36 and, almost immediately afterwards, classy left hander Noel Grier for 0.
John failed with the bat but returned to bowling prominence in the nest match with against Ulster Town at Sion Mills. The visitors lost the toss but dismissed North West for 134. However John then had 5-34 to bring about a 43 run victory, his wickets including Jimmy McKelvey and the big hitters Stan Hewitt and "Sonny" Hool.
His career best bowling in the competition came against Munster at Beechgrove in August 1968. He took 8-25 to dismiss the visitors for 65. It was as well that he did so as Dennis Leng, fast medium, and Barclay Wilson, a slow left armer with the hostility of a paceman, reduced North West to 55-6 before a four wicket victory was achieved.
John's final noteworthy performance, one which may have won him a belated Irish place, came at Castle Avenue in June 1969. North West fell for 131, but their hosts were 80-8 at stumps, John's figures being 21 - 6 - 32 - 4. His quartet of wickets, David Ensor, Gerry Murphy, Alec O'Riordan and "Podge" Hughes was hardly one to be brushed aside as "easy pickings."
In mid August he was in the NWCU team which played Pakistan International Airlines at Strabane. The PIA side was far too strong but John acquitted himself well with the ball taking 3-54, including Mohammed Ilyas caught behind by the ever reliable Ossie for 0 and the great Hanif Mohammed for 6.
It was, nevertheless, somewhat of a surprise when he was selected for Ireland's English tour at the end of the month. Already joined in both the Donemana and NW sides by his son, he was a 41 year old grandfather, whose best days were behind him.
His debut against the Combined Services at Uxbridge saw a comfortable Irish win, though they were assisted by a generous declaration. He took one wicket in the CS second innings but was out for a duck in the Irish first innings, not batting in the second. On to Lord's where in a match of three declarations, Ireland lost by 36 runs. Having not batted in the first innings John was bowled for 0 by leg spinner Alan Duff in the second. Bowling first change, as he had at Uxbridge he had one wicket in MCC second innings. His victim was a young Hertfordshire batsman Ian MacLaurin, later to be Lord MacLaurin of Tesco and ECB fame, remembered by some - in his second role - as the man who tried to ban Jack Russell's trade mark white hat!
John did not play for Ireland again. He had probably been selected too late in his career to do himself full justice, though it is unfortunate that he was not, when chosen, given more of an opportunity to display his batting talent.
There is no doubt hat he was a player of international class who might well have solved a problem for Ireland in the 1950s, when the selectors often chose teams short in opening bowlers to strengthen the batting and make full use of several excellent spinners. Late in the decade, of course, another all rounder who batted right handed and was left arm new ball bowler came on to the scene and remained there for almost twenty years.
John Lowry Cochrane was, however, in Clarence Hiles words', "A top quality batsman" and - with reference to his many successes with Donemana, "An exceptional player in a fine team that gave their all and gave it often."
Edward Liddle, January 2010, updated March 2020