While only two Irishmen have played cricket for Australia, twice as many had reversed the roles as Australians who had represented Ireland up to the end of the 20th Century. And, remarkably, they were two sets of brothers. First there were the Quinlans in the earlier part of the 1900s and, of course, in very recent times came the Waugh twins.
The Quinlan brothers were born in Perth, Western Australia, and both died there. Bernard was the older of the two by six years and his brief flirtation with Irish cricket came when he qualified as a doctor from Dublin University. He played one match for Ireland in 1911, took 3 for 49 and didn't bat. Then it was back to Australia where he died in 1951.
Patrick Francis Quinlan played four matches for Ireland. He hit 180 runs for an average of 30 and he scored his two centuries in one match. His bowling was less successful - 2 for 134. Patrick died a young man of 44 and six years before his death he was still playing for Western Australia.
The Waugh twins came to Ireland within a couple of years of each other, under sponsorship by Tony O'Reilly's Independent Newspapers to promote the game here - Steve in 1998 and Mark only last summer.
Steve's three week visit was no sinecure - no fewer than six matches against an Australian A side, some of whose members were aspiring for places in the World Cup side of the following year. When the Australian one-day captain came to the wicket in an Irish sweater, there was serious intent by the likes of Jason Gillespie and Colin Millar. Steve Waugh scored 246 runs, two half centuries and averaged 35.14.
Mark Waugh wore the Irish sweater twice last summer in one day internationals against Zimbabwe at Clontarf. He scored 55 for an average of 27.50. However, it was while playing against Ireland that Mark Waugh created a record that the Irish bowlers of the day will want to forget but will probably always remember. Unheard of in cricketing circles and at the age of 21, he played for MCC against Ireland at Castle Avenue, Dublin, in 1986. He scored 239 not out and 101 not out, the greatest number of runs ever scored in a single match against Ireland.
As a man with a real sense of place - witness his patronage of a lepers' colony in Calcutta - Steve Waugh's visit to Ireland was one of serious curiosity and provided material, both written and photographic, for some of his distinguished cricketing chronicles. In inquiring about Irish history, particularly in the context of the civil unrest of the past 30 years, his interest was intense - not least while capturing some of the images of Belfast which, hitherto, had been familiar only through the medium of television news.
Like his brother's visit before him, Mark Waugh promoted the game within the ICU's four provincial unions. And his sense of place of Irish cricket came in a highly poignant meeting in Donemana with Alex McBrine, that legend of cricket, locally and far beyond. Alex, approaching his 80th birthday, was confined to his home with cancer and couldn't attend the North-West Cup game that was included in Mark's Waugh's itinerary. After savouring the grass roots of Irish cricket in that small, sloping Tyrone ground, the Test batsman went round the corner to pay his respects to the man who had given so much to the local game.
Alex said how much he had admired the Australian's stylish ways which he had often seen on television. In turn, Mark said he understood there wouldn't really be much cricket in the village but for the McBrine family. It was to be a memorable moment in what was to be Alex McBrine's first and last summer of the millennium. He died three months later.