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Biography
Andrew Arthur Abraham
  • Born 1852 Limerick
  • Died 2 June 1922 Whitley Bay, Yorkshire
  • Educated Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland
  • Occupation Doctor
  • Debut 4 September 1872 v I Zingari at Phoenix CC
  • Cap Number 145
  • Style Right-hand bat; right arm medium pace; wicket keeper.
  • Teams Leinster, Gentlemen of Northumberland, Durham, Gentlemen of Durham, Gentlemen of Northumberland, Sunderland, Newcastle

Arthur Abraham was a genuine all round cricketer. A useful right hand batsman, most suited to the middle order though he batted between 1 and 11 in matches of which scores have been seen, he was a good wicket keeper who could also bowl medium pace very effectively. Had not his profession and family links taken him to England's North East when he was still a young man, he would almost certainly have made more than two appearances for Ireland. As it was he settled in Durham, becoming a respected member of the community there both in his professional capacity and because of his cricket skills. The majority of his Irish cricket was played for Leinster, including two matches against the United South of England XI, a side which despite the fact that it was started as one of the professional Travelling XIs, had become more of a money maker for the Grace family than anyone else.

In 1873. Leinster began by dismissing their mighty visitors for 96 (WG 36) then, batting 22, replied with 212, Arthur, however, falling for 2 at No 1, dismissed by the left arm round arm pace of George Howitt. He then took a leading part in bowling the USE out for 159, himself taking 6-25 in 34 four ball overs, including the wickets of WG and his younger brother Fred. However Leinster's victory quest was derailed by some hostile bowling, Arthur (2) being among the failures as they finished on 136, succumbing to the wiles of England's oldest Test debutant James Southerton.

The USE were back the following year for another drawn match, the Grace brothers each scoring hundreds left little time for anything else. In the first of these matches Arthur was joined in the side by his twin brother William, who batted lower in the order than his brother. History related that when William arrived at the wicket WG challenged his presence, "You can't bat twice young man!" He was not molified until Arthur came out to join his twin. This tale may be true but it has also been told of the Bedsers and, no doubt, others. Perhaps Grace was left regretting that he did not have a twin for, as an exponent of gamesmanship who would make the antics of a fair haired 21st century England fast bowler seem the stuff of the infants' school playground, he would most certainly have used the relationship to his advantage.

That first summer Arthur, besides making his Irish debut and played for a team described as the Gentlemen of Ireland against the Players of Ireland. As with previous such matches in Dublin the majority of the Players were soldiers of the Dublin Garrison who were, in the first innings no match for the bowling of the two Arthurs, Abraham with his medium pace and Samuels, still bowling his lobs, which he believed to be the only true form of attack. Each had a first innings"5 for", Arthur's being all clean bowled.

His two appearances for Ireland were both against I Zingari in successive years and were both 12 a side. Keeping wicket in both matches, though he also bowled in the first, he made worthwhile contributions to narrow Irish victories in both matches. At Phoenix CC, Ireland collapsed for 68 in their first innings in 1873 and saw the visitors gain a 45 runs lead. This might well have been more had not Arthur stumped the highest scorer Lord Willoughby de Broke for 26, just as he was getting into his stride. Ireland were than able to score 152 and dismiss the Zingaros for 96. Arthur ceded the gloves at the end of the innings to dispose of the obdurate Charles Coote, himself an Irish international, and finish with 1-15, Ireland winning by 11 runs.

The following year they won by 15 runs, Arthur playing a notable part with a second innings 26 being followed by 3 crucial stumpings in the visitors' second innings.

Thereafter almost all of Arthur's cricket was played in the North East of England, with all three aspects of his game being seen to good effect. Thus, early in his time there he had a "5 for" in a Gentlemen of Northumberland v Players match, though the professionals, considerably stronger than their Dublin counterparts, won with some ease. His all-round skills were well to the fore in three appearances against early Australian sides. The visitors, in those days, played a number of matches against local XXIIs, or similar teams, usually winning. This was not, however, the case in 1878 when Sunderland won a notable victory in the last match of the tour. Arthur made 3 stumpings, two in the second innings being the vital ones of obdurate stonewaller Alick Bannerman and the first great Australian batsman Billy Murdoch.

He was again in good form, this time with the ball, representing Newcastle - Upon - Tyne, against the 1880 side, now led by Murdoch, who shares with Ricky Ponting the unwanted distinction of being - at the time of writing - the only Australian captains to have lost the Ashes three times. The Australians totalled 222, after the great Fred Spofforth had bowled his hosts out cheaply, accounting for both their Irish internationals, Arthur and John Russel for 3 each. Then Arthur had figures of 33-22-23-3 with the 4 ball over in use. His haul included Murdoch who made 117. The Australians still won with some ease as they did against Northumberland two years later when with Spofforth resting, his two almost equally dangerous contemporaries George Palmer and Harry Boyle, dismissed the county for 63. Batting down the order Arthur topscored with 25, to complete a trio of useful performances against the tourists.

He had several other useful performances to his credit with, for example, a score of 49* for Northumberland against MCC at Lord's in 1884. The visitors totalled 228 but rain ended the match with MCC on 160-6. His best innings for Durham, of which a score has been seen, cam e in the same year against Northumberland when he made 69 out of a total of 304, which was to lead to a 9 wickets victory.

Away from cricket Andrew Arthur Abraham was, as we have seen, a respected member of the medical profession. He and his wife Margurite had two sons and two daughters. Their younger son, Everard, who lived until 1981, followed his father's vocation and, serving in the RAMC during the First World War reached the rank of Major and won the Military Cross.

Edward Liddle, July 2013

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