- Born 23 December 1843 Belfast
- Died 13 August 1901 Gulmarg, Kashmir, India
- Occupation Officer in Indian Army
- Debut 31 July 1871 v MCC at College Park, Dublin
- Cap Number 143
- Style Right hand batsman
- Teams NICC
James McNeale, son of John McNeale of Rush Park, Co Antrim, had a brief and inglorious career in Irish Cricket, but a most distinguished one in his military role. A captain in the Bengal Infantry, he was on leave in 1871 and played with some regularity for NICC. This gained him selection for the match between Ireland and MCC in College Park, supposedly a three day game, commencing on 31 July to mark the beginning of the Dublin cricket week.
However the match was a great disappointment with Ireland barely surviving into the second day.
They batted first on a sodden wicket, but in brilliant sunshine. The MCC side was somewhat weak in batting but its opening bowlers were Alf Shaw and Frank Farrands. Shaw, taker of 2075 first class wickets, generally seen as the most accurate bowler in the history of the game, would, six years later bowl the first ball in Test Cricket. He only needed to bowl two now to dismiss the Irish captain George Barry. Farrands, who was a very good fast roundarmer and later became a well known Test umpire, needed the same number to dispose of James who had gone in first with Barry.
Ireland never recovered and crashed to an ignominious innings defeat despite some fine bowling by left arm medium pacer Orpen Beamish, a Cork doctor, who like James and batsman/rich landowner CP Coote, was making his only appearance for Ireland. The hosts did even worse in their second innings with James, at 5 this time, collecting a pair by being run out without facing a ball. The two Irish innings combined only just exceeded 82 and the match just lasted long enough for the visit of HRH The Prince of Wales.
James returned to India at the end of his leave, no further record of his cricket has been seen. It may be assumed, however, that he played in India, where the game had been established by the military and other members of the British community as early as 1721. He pursued a successful military career, becoming Squadron Commander in the Bengal Cavalry in 1873 and fighting with distinction in the Afghan War of 1877-80. In 1891, promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, he became commandant of the Bengal Light Infantry, a post he still held at his retirement in 1898.
James Agnew McNeale was in India at the time of his death in 1901. By a strange coincidence his wife, who was staying in London, but resident in Bournemouth, died two days later.
Edward Liddle, January 2010