- Born 1850 Moneymore, Co Londonderry 1850
- Died 16 June 1915, Tyrone Hospital, Omagh, Co Tyrone
- Educated Portora Royal; Dublin University
- Occupation Militia Officer, Clerk to Petty Sessions.
- Debut 22 June 1868 v All England XI at College Park
- Cap Number 115
- Style Right hand bat, slow right arm round arm.
- Teams Dublin University, Dungannon, NICC, Phoenix, Killyman, Cookstown
Rowley Miller came from a well-known family with interests in three Ulster counties. His father, also Rowley, resident in Moneymore was a magistrate in Co Armagh and a militia officer in the Londonderry area. The family also had estate on the shores of Lough Fea. Rowley, the cricketer, lived much of his adult life in Omagh. His time at Portora coincided with the early development of cricket there, the game not always having an easy ride.
However by the time he entered Dublin University in 1867, he was an accomplished cricketer, with batting his stronger suit. He was in the XI from 1868 to 1870, gaining his colours each year. He aggregated 591 runs at 19.70, respectable figures for College Park in those days, with a highest score of 105, made in his third season in the XI, when he headed the batting averages. He also took 19 wickets in his University career. He served on the Committee for three years, the last 1871, being one in which he did not play for the University having transferred his allegiance to Phoenix.
Though he turned out both for that club and NICC, most of his cricket away from College Park was played for Dungannon, for whom he appeared for over thirty years. He hit the first recorded century for the club, against Lurgan in 1870, when he also made 60 in the second innings. His last match was in 1901. Aged 51, he made 59 v Armagh. He also ran his own touring side for several years, the principal matches being against Armagh and NICC.
His Irish debut came for XXII of All Ireland against the powerful All England XI at College Park in June 1869, John Lawrence, sports' entrepreneur and publisher of the famous " Handbook", having hired the ground from the University for the occasion. Batting at 17, Rowley made a creditable 14 before being caught off the left arm round arm pace of James Shaw. Shaw took over 600 first class wickets at a low cost, but, with a batting average of 4.64, was regarded as the worst batsman of his time in county cricket. In the second innings, promoted to 7, Rowley was stumped by George Pinder off "Tear Em" Tarrant for 2. The visitors won with some ease. Neither this match, nor the other odds or 12 a side matches in which Rowley played for Ireland appear in his statistics on this site, as they cover 11 a side matches only.
He played two further matches against the professional XIs the following summer. Both were at Rathmines, the first internationals staged there. In June, in a match which Ireland held out for a draw, he managed 17 and 0 at No 5 with Shaw and Tarrant again being too much for him. Then in early September, the All England side's commercial rivals, the United South of England XI came to Observatory Lane.
Rowley had a miserable match, batting at 10. In his first knock he was run out for 1, he followed this with a second innings duck. In retrospect, he had the satisfaction of being dismissed by two figures who were to cut their niche in cricket history. He was stumped by wicket keeper Ted Pooley off the bowling of James Southerton. James remains the oldest Test debutant, having been 49 years and 119 days when he played in the first of all Test Matches. He was also the first Test cricketer to die. Ted should have played in the same Test, but he was in prison in New Zealand, awaiting trial for an alleged betting scam. He was acquitted, but was to die destitute in a workhouse. Rowley appeared in two further matches before his swansong on the American tour of 1879.
In 1871, as described elsewhere in these biographies, MCC came to Dublin for a match meant to encourage the development of professional cricket in Ireland. It was over in less than a day and a half with the Nottinghamshire pair, Alf Shaw, bowler of the first ball in Test Cricket, and Frank Farrands, later a well regarded Test umpire, far too good for a weak Ireland side. Rowley was spared the carnage, as he was playing for MCC, who had arrived one short. He made 10 in his only innings, being caught by CP Coote off Army officer CC Oldfield. The MCC also included two other Irish internationals AJ McNeale and WH Walrond. Walrond, later Lord Waleran was an Army officer who became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Rowley also played, without much success, in Ireland's 12 a side victory over I Zingari at the Vice Regal Ground in 1874. He made 9* and 0 at No 9.
He was chosen to be a member of Ireland's first ever touring party to North America in 1879 under the captaincy of Nathaniel Hone. The two matches against Philadelphia are now seen as cap matches, the others being against weaker opposition. Philadelphia, though being bowled out themselves by Arthur Exham for only 140, won by an innings, with the brothers Charlie and Dan Newhall twice bundling Ireland out for 58 and 62. There were four Newhall brothers in all; they played a most important role in the great days of Philadelphia cricket.
In this match, a third brother, Robert, the best batsman in the USA, topscored, Rowley batting at 8 in the first innings was bowled by Charlie for 1. The Newhalls' mother was the scorer, as always when her sons played. Only two Irish batsmen made double figures. Three managed it in the second knock, Rowley top scoring with 16, before being caught by Dan off Charlie. The match was watched by a crowd of 6000. The second game was a one day match, arranged because of the early finish to the first. It ended in a draw with Ireland gaining a slender first innings lead. Rowley went in first and again topscored, making 20 before being caught off EW Clarke, a quality leg spinner, who did well as an all rounder on tour in England in 1884 and 1889.
Rowley failed to take advantage of weaker bowling in the non cap matches, though one against Hamilton in Canada, found the Irish ranged against Robert Ferrie, probably the best and fastest bowler in Canada, who disposed of Rowley, in each innings, for 1. Rowley's top score on the tour was 24, at No 5 against XVI of Whitby. Ireland totalled 396 in 212 four ball overs and the match was drawn.
As we have seen, he continued to play club cricket for twenty years after the tour, but did not appear for Ireland. He lived for some years at Millbank, Omagh, but was in hospital when he died. His will suggests that he had either disposed of his assets previously, or fallen on hard times. His estate was valued at Four Guineas. He was married with three daughters.
Edward Liddle, September 2008