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Biography
William Bell CB
  • Born 1829 Guernsey
  • Died 28 February 1913 Guernsey
  • Occupation Army Officer Later Secretary to Guernsey Government
  • Debut 2 September 1869 v United South of England XI at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 132
  • Style Hand unknown
  • Teams Phoenix 56th Regiment

William Bell owed his sole Irish cap to his military career which saw him stationed in Ireland in 1869. That summer he had played with some success for his regiment and for Phoenix, but only came into the Irish side for the match against the United South of England XI because 11 players from the originally selected 22 were unable to take part. William was one of the replacements, six others of whom joined him in playing their only game for Ireland. This was to prove to be the last match that Ireland did not take on the opposition on level terms and was also the last played against one of the English Professional XIs.

The visitors proved to be far too strong for the XXII, with the two great bowlers James Southerton and Edgar Willsher, wreaking such havoc in their hosts' batting line up that only three batsmen reached double figures in the match, William was not among them. Batting at No 18 he was out for 0 in the first innings, caught by Henry Charlwood off Willsher. Charlwood was later to become England's first No 3, scoring 36 in the first innings of the first ever Test match, rather more than some of his successors have managed! William did marginally better in the second being undefeated on 6 when the Irish innings ended. In the match, which the USE won by 5 wickets, Willsher took 21-55 and Southerton 18-109.

William Bell did not play for Ireland again. After a successful military career, at the end of which - a Colonel - he was made a Companion of the Bath, he retired to Guernsey, becoming Government Secretary. He was married to Rosina Carey. They had two sons and three daughters.

NB: I am almost certain that the correct Army officer named William Bell has been identified as the cricketer described above. Any information to the contrary would be gratefully received as would any further details about the man identified here.

Edward Liddle, October 2013

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