- Born 13 April 1826, Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire), Co Dublin
- Died Quarter 1, 1893 Kingstown, Co Dublin
- Educated Mr Ferral's, Dublin University
- Occupation Lawyer, Proctor of Kingstown
- Debut 10 September 1855 v Gentlemen of England at Phoenix CC, Phoenix Park
- Cap Number 10
- Style Batting style unknown, slow right arm underarm
- Teams Dublin University, Phoenix, Kingstown, Gentlemen of Dublin, United Ireland XI.
Arthur Samuels was a very good slow underarm bowler who was regarded by his contemporaries, and most of all by himself, as the leading exponent of the art in Ireland. A slightly built man of just under average height, he did his utmost to publicise and prolong his craft. Rather like John Nyren in The Cricketers of My Time, published when Samuels was a small boy, he decried round arm as an impurity, though whether he followed Nyren in branding it throwing and trying to have it banned, is unknown. His views are shown by a speech he made to the Field Sports Section of the British Association, which held a meeting in Dublin, devoted to cricket, in August 1878. As Reverend JP Mahaffy was in the Chair and all three Graces spoke, Arthur may have found it hard to get a word in. When he did, it was to call upon the President, WG, to, in the following year, " take as the theme of his inaugural address the mathematical certainty of slow underarm bowling in getting wickets."
Samuels, played for many more clubs than it would be possible to show here, though his qualifications to play for Dublin University, when he did, are highly dubious. He does not seem to have been a member of the XI while an undergraduate before taking his degree in 1848. He can, however, be found as a regular member during the mid to late 1850s. He came to be regarded as somewhat of a cricketing Ancient Mariner as he continued to state his case for lob bowling until his death, but he did, perhaps, have a point. There were some examples of successful lob bowling after his time In the years leading up to the First World War, George Simpson - Hayward, who gained a Blue at Cambridge the year Samuels died, took over 500 first class wickets with similar bowling. Arthur was fond of relating how in one early IZ match v Phoenix, a Zingaro named Captain Munday mocked his bowling and promised him a gold watch if he (Samuels) captured his wicket. Arthur promptly did so, whereupon the Captain was last seen heading out of Phoenix Park main gate in an outside car, never to be seen in Ireland again!
Samuels made a more important contribution to the game, however, than championing a dying art. In 1886, he delivered a lecture to the Kingstown Literary Society, "Early Cricket in Ireland", which covered much of his cricket as a young man and has proved of great value to historians as he had it published and widely distributed. However those who wish to purchase a copy today face a long search and a second mortgage!
His long career in club matches was marked by frequent appearances under an assumed name. Whether this was, as he claimed, to confuse the opposition, or, as seems more likely, to deceive the legal establishment of Kingstown, is unclear, but the ruse hardly worked as he invariably chose the alias of S Arthur, which was not very difficult to unravel. Some of his bowling feats in these matches are noteworthy. In 1853, in the second of two encounters that summer between the Gentlemen and Players of Dublin, in Phoenix Park, he clean bowled six of the Players batsmen, all soldiers of the garrison, with only Peter Doyle, self made Phoenix professional, defying him.
Again at Phoenix in 1858, he and Charles Lawrence bowled the latter's United Ireland XI to a convincing win over XXII of Dublin, Samuels taking 27 of the 42 wickets. Though sometimes used as an opener, his batting was negligible and he rarely played a commanding or influential innings. In all he played 15 times for Ireland between 1855 and 1869, taking 53 wickets. Unfortunately runs scored off bowlers at this time were not always noted. Nineteen of these wickets were taken in 11 side matches, the remainder being secured when Ireland either fielded more than 11, or played against opposition which did. These matches will not be found in his statistics on this site, but some are considered below. He played in Ireland's opening match v weak Gentlemen of England side, gaining the unwanted distinction of being the first Irish batsman to be dismissed, making 2. He took one first innings wicket, but his bowling was not needed in the second innings. In his second knock he managed 11, one of his rare double figure scores.
One of his best performances in an 11 a side match was v I Zingari at the Vice Regal Ground in 1859. Ireland lost but this could not be laid at his door. In the visitors first innings he took 9 wickets, six being clean bowled.
Unfortunately full analysis is not available, but it must rank as one of the statistically most impressive pieces of bowling for Ireland. He had two "5 fors", in 1861. Against I Zingari, his wickets included those of RAH Mitchell and RA Fitzgerald. The latter also played for Ireland but was to gain fame as an influential MCC Secretary. This match was played at Coburg Gardens, Dublin. The playing area is now mostly covered by the National Concert Hall, though fantasists may still discern the outfield in parts of Iveagh Gardens.
Samuels also took 5 in the second innings v Military of Ireland that year in a match played as late as the first week of October. He did not get on in the first innings when the soldiers scraped together 39. He was given a bowl in the second, and shared the wickets with Lawrence, each taking five. Ireland won by an innings and 87 runs. Arthur may well have recalled the MCC match at Lord's in 1862 with some pride. He took five wickets in the match, but his batting played a large part in winning it. Ireland needed 102 to win and made heavy weather of the task. Samuels made second top score with 23, easily his best for Ireland. Bob Fitzgerald, perhaps called up for Ireland this time because he lived in London, saw them home with an undefeated 33.
In the odds matches Ireland usually played 22 against the best English professionals. Samuels made little impact with bat or ball in these matches, his most distinguished wicket was that of Julius Caesar at Rathmines in 1860. This cricketer was no Roman dictator, but an accomplished, though gloomy and introspective, Surrey batsman.
However his best performance in an odds match came in Scotland in the same year. Lawrence took his United Ireland XI over the Irish Sea for the first time. They began with against XVI of the Clydesdale Club, a game not now seen as an official Irish match. The XI won easily with Samuels taking 9 wickets in the match. They took on Colonel Buchanan's XVI of Scotland, in a match recognised as the first official Irish match in Scotland. It resulted in victory won by an innings and 44 runs. Had there been a man of the match award, Arthur would most certainly have won it. He took 16 of the Colonel's 30 wickets, including 10 in the second innings, a notable achievement, even though the hosts were batting sixteen!
Arthur Samuels last match for Ireland was in 1869 against the All England XI at Rathmines in June. It was not an auspicious finale. He bowled only in the first innings, taking the wicket of Cambridgeshire opener John Smith for 10 runs. In the Irish first innings he batted at 22, and was caught by Smith off the legendary "Tear Em" Tarrant for 1. He opened in the second innings and departed the international scene run out 0. He continued playing cricket for almost all the last thirty years of his life, never missing an opportunity to propound the merits of slow underarm bowling over all other methods of attack.
His biography is in Scores and Biographies Volume 7 with addenda in Volume 14.
Edward Liddle, October 2007