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Biography
DJ Stokes
  • Born 6 June 1850
  • Educated Green Lilly School, Rathmines School
  • Occupation Banker
  • Debut 23 September 1869 v United South of England XI at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 137
  • Style Hand unknown, occasional wicket keeper
  • Teams Rathmines School, Leinster, Phoenix, National Bank of Ireland

DJ Stokes was a good upper order batsman, prominent enough in Dublin cricket to have made his first appearance for Ireland at the age of 19. Unfortunately it has proved impossible to discover his given names, hence he is referred to throughout this piece as DJS.

He was educated at Rathmines School, where he was one of the earlier students. The School, founded by Reverend Charles Benson in 1850, lasted until 1859, closing when Benson retired. During this time it gained a considerable reputation among Dublin middle class Protestants as an academy for their sons. Not only did it produce a number of excellent sportsmen, for example cricketers Jack Brunskill and David Trotter as well as the remarkable but ultimately tragic all round scholar athlete Reggie Faussett, but a large number of boys destined to hold high positions in the legal, academic and eccliastical worlds, also passed through its doors.

DJS abilities there saw him gain a place in the Leinster (Club) side while still a schoolboy, which led to his being chosen for the XXII of Ireland against a star studded United South of England XI in late September 1869. The visitors won with some ease, those two legendary bowlers Edgar Willsher and James Southerton proving too much for their hosts. In Ireland's first innings of 83 only one batsman, R Jones of Dublin University and Hollyville Park, managed double figures, DJS, batting at 16 succumbing to Southerton, who as the first Test cricketer to die holds one record that can never be beaten, for 1. Ireland did marginally better in their second innings, posting exactly 100, not so DJS who was bowled by Willsher for a duck.

His other two appearances for Ireland were more successful. Against I Zingari at Phoenix in September 1873, he alone stood firm against the pace of Oxford Blue, paceman William Law who, in this 12 a side match, took 8-25 as Ireland's first innings totalled only 68. DJS, coming in at 4, made 18, the only double figure score the hosts contrived. He made 8 in the second innings as Ireland again collapsed to Law but Ireland still won the match thinks to a remarkable bowling performance by the Vice Regal Chaplain James Byrne, who had overall figures of 17-90. DJS highest score for Ireland came in the corresponding match the following year when he made 21 in the first innings of another 12-a-side match which eventually enabled Ireland to gain a vital 20 runs lead. Though he went for 0 in the second innings, Ireland won by 15 runs, showing the value of his first knock.

He also appeared for a strong Irish side against the American Baseball XI, a match which has never been regarded as an official Irish cap match. Perhaps this is just as well for the hosts lost the game to their visitors, who also played a number of matches in England. Every match was accompanied by either a game or exhibition of cricket's American cousin. The visitors had several well known American cricketers in their ranks, notably the Yorkshire born William Henry Wright who proved too much for Ireland in both innings. DJS with scores of 12 and 10, in Ireland's lack lustre innings of 47 and 32, was one of the few who faced him with any sort of confidence.

He had a number of good performances or Leinster against strong opposition, his top score in such matches coming in 1876 against Yorkshire United at Rathmines. The visitors were an all professional XI, including some whose names live on in the county's annals, including, for example, Allen Hill, Tom Emmet and John Thewlis. They were much too strong for XVIII of Leinster but DJS showed that their bowling could be defied. In the first innings he came in at No 3 and batted through the innings to finish on 3* earning praise from his opponents for his gritty defence. Leinster improved slightly in the second, totalling 88. At 4 this time, DJS again carried his bat, finishing undefeated on 23. He had some help this time from HT Chapman who made 12.

No account of his career would be complete without a look at two somewhat bizarre matches played a year apart, both only taking their course, because no declarations were then permitted. On 20 June 1876, he returned to Rathmines School, to assist his alma mater against Dublin University 2nd XI. The visitors batted first and occupied most of the day in putting up a score of 412. proceeds being dominated by GM Kenny who powered his way to 266 in 300 minutes with 20 fours and 2 sixes. There was just time for the hosts to reach 63/1 with DJS on 39* when stumps were drawn.

Exactly a year later, he went in first for the National Bank of Ireland against Civil Service. The financers made 369, leaving no time for Civil Service to bat. This outcome was entirely due to DJS who carried his bat for a remarkable 220, attractive to watch but, like Kenny's performance, killed the match stone dead as a contest.

Edward Liddle, July 2014

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