BEST IRISH CRICKET XI
Former Irish international Mike Halliday picks his all-time Ireland side.
This selection presumes a team selected to play time cricket. It would be impossible not to have Kevin O’Brien and Paul Stirling and some others in a one day XI but I am picking a side for a test match.
Four of the side never played an overs match and five others only played a handful for Ireland. Comparing modern Irish professionals to players of 50 or 100 years ago is pretty difficult and maybe impossible.
This selection consists of players who would have been outstanding in any of the last 165 years of Irish cricket.
1 Ed Joyce. Classic left hander often compared in style to David Gower. Superb record in first class cricket and finished with 47 centuries and an average of 48.
2 Bob Lambert. Played 51 times in 5 different decades for Ireland. WG Grace was a fan. Scorer of a 100 centuries for club and country. Also took 173 wickets for Ireland bowling off breaks. Could be useful when Boucher breaks down when this team takes to the field. I hope Leinster CC find a good way of remembering him now the old scoreboard with his name on it has gone.
3 Lucius Gwynn. Top of the bunch from the “Golden Age” of the 1890s. Played for the Gentlemen v Players and was reputedly selected for England but turned it down due to exams in TCD. Prince Ranji took his place. In 1902 he scored 4 consecutive centuries in Phoenix despite not being in the best of health. He died of TB that winter.
4 Ivan Anderson. “Goat” was the best Irish batsman of my time and the most difficult to bowl to. A useful off spinner and superb cover fielder who could pick up and throw at the stumps faster than anyone. Ivan gets the nod over Alf Masood because of his lengthy successful career. Alf was phenomenal. I watched from the balcony as he hit 138 before lunch at Lords in 1985. He was suspended twice by Ireland for breaking the rules, playing on the day before Irish matches for his clubs. That pushes him slightly down the list. You could pick both him and Ivan but who would then be left out?
5 Eoin Morgan. 16 tests ave 30, 236 ODIs ave 39, 20/20 internationals ave 34 strike rate 137. World Cup winning captain. Hard not to pick him as captain of this team. Gave him out lbw once. Plumb.
6 Alec O’Riordan. Would have played test cricket if he had gone to play for a county in the 1960s. Nobody did that in those days. Classic left armer and stylish batsman. Himself and Bob Lambert vie for best ever Irish all rounder.
7 Jimmy Boucher. In 60 matches Jimmy took 307 wickets at 15.26, bowling quickish off breaks off a long run for a slow bowler. Took many of his wickets caught at short leg. Another who would have had a long test career in England. Took 7 for 13 against New Zealand in 1937 and 7 for 39 against South Africa in 1947. Topped the English first class averages 3 times. Followed his playing days acting as Secretary of the Irish Cricket Union from 1954 to 1973.
8 Dermot Monteith. Superb cricketer and unique character. Most confident cricketer I ever met. Rated himself as the third best slow left arm bowler in the world in the 1970s. When Ireland played the MCC who included Dilip Doshi, the Indian SLA, he moved himself up to second. Bishen Bedi was number one. Attacking captain also. Team talks interesting. On the way out of the dressing room v the West Indies he turns and says “Consider yourselves whipped up”.
9 Simon Corlett. In my head this opening bowler slot was between Simon and Trent Johnston which shows how talented both were. Trent was a genuine quick in his younger days and a great team man. Simon could move the ball both ways, bowl off breaks as well and gets my pick. I suppose I did play with him!
10 Paul Jackson. The best keeper I played with and a great team player. Ossie Colhoun was close and if you wanted to strengthen the batting pick Niall O’Brien or Frank Browning who scored 2 fifties against the 1905 Aussies in College Park.
11 Tom Ross. Described by Pat Hone in his book “Cricket in Ireland” (1953) as the best ever Irish bowler. Only played 19 times in 17 summers but took 86 wickets at 14.6 including 9 for 28 against South Africa at the Mardyke in 1904. This remains the best bowling stats for Ireland. He bowled quick, mainly inswing with a slower off cutter. Picked for the Gentlemen v Players in 1902 following a tour in which he bowled WG Grace and took 7 for 82 v MCC and 6 for 91 v Oxford. Also a good batsman, he made 85 v Surrey at the Oval in 1895.
12th Man Kyle McCallan. A fine example of how the modern Irish player came through the old amateur scene and developed as a professional. Wouldn’t drop a catch, let alone the drinks.
Manager . Roy Torrens. Great success in a formative time for the current side. Jamaica and Bangalore! The funniest team mate I ever had. Having been hit for five fours in one over by Alan Butcher at the Oval in 1981 he said to me as captain, “He wont hit me for five fours next over, five sixes maybe but not five fours”.
Coach. Charles Lawrence. Seen as the father of Irish cricket he organised the first Irish match in Phoenix Park in 1855 while being employed as a pro by Phoenix and the Earl of Carlisle, for whom he built a cricket ground in the then Vice Regal Lodge. In Ireland’s first game v MCC at Lords in 1858 he took 12 for 57 bowling fast round arm. Went to Australia to play in 1861. He stayed, organised and coached in Sydney and Melbourne into the 20th century and Ashley Mallett, test player and cricket historian says if anyone deserves to be described as the father of Australian cricket, it is Charles Lawrence.