- Born 1850 Dublin
- Died 12 July 1885 Dublin
- Educated Mr North, Dublin University
- Occupation Engineer
- Debut 26 August 1874 v I Zingari at Vice Regal Ground, Phoenix Park.
- Cap Number 153
- Style Right hand bat, slow round arm
- Teams Dublin University Past and Present, Leinster, Phoenix, Limerick
Daniel Neill, a tall man of dark complexion who sported a beard to match and a white hat that, in another era, Jack Russell might have coveted, had a brief but highly successful career in Irish cricket. Both in his four matches for the national side against I Zingari and in his appearances for Leinster against powerful mainly professional sides from England, he showed the ability to compete at the highest level of the game.
He entered Dublin University in 1869 having been educated by a Mr North. Whether North ran a private "cramming " academy or was Headmaster of a larger institution, it is impossible, at this distance, to say. Clearly, however, cricket must have been part of the curriculum. Daniel's background may have been a somewhat privileged one, certainly the University's records list his father's occupation as being "none." Daniel played one season for the XI when an undergraduate, that of 1871. No bowling average is recorded for him but he must have been fairly effective with the ball as he was awarded his colours though aggregating only 97 runs at 12.17. His highest score was 23.
He was however in a Past and Present side, which took on the United South of England (USE) XI in College Park that summer. He did not bowl a single ball as the hosts, fielding a XXII recorded a memorable innings victory. The bowling of their professional coach, the legendary Jesse Richards and of the equally legendary - though for reasons other than cricket - JP Mahaffy proving too much for the visitors who were led by GF - Fred - Grace, youngest of the triumvirate. When the home side batted, Daniel came in at No 20, he was stumped for 1, but, not for the last time, was to rub shoulders with history in the manner of his dismissal.
Daniel appeared twice for XXII of Leinster against the USE XI. In 1873 he was principally responsible for dismissing the formidable visitors for 95. He bowled unchanged for 54 - four ball - overs - taking 6-40, his wickets including future Test men in Henry Charlwood of Sussex, Fred Grace and all rounder Harry Jupp of Surrey. Grace, of course, was to play in the first Test in England at The Oval in 1880 before - in close pursuit of Southerton becoming the second Test cricketer to die. Charlwood and Jupp, played with Southerton in the first ever Test. Also in Daniel's bag was Richard Humphrey, another excellent batsman, who eventually fell on hard times, his body being found in the Thames at Westminster, some sixteen years after his association with cricket as player and umpire had finished. Daniel failed to dismiss WG who made 36 and 40.
The match in question was drawn with the hosts needing 43 finishing on 13-6, 14 wickets in hand!
Daniel did succeed in disposing of WG the following season but not before "The Champion" had made 153. With Fred also reaching three figures USE made 431 but did not have enough time to win the match. Though Daniel had taken only two wickets, he was one of the few Leinster men to make any impression with the bat. The XXII put together 245 in their first innings, with Daniel making second top score of 22. Continuing his penchant for rubbing shoulders with the famous in the manner of his dismissals, he was caught by Fred off WG.
The following year a strong professional XI, Yorkshire United came to Rathmines to face a Leinster XXII. The hosts began by bowling the visitors out for 65, with Daniel taking two wickets, including that of Andrew Greenwood, another good batsman who would be in the England side when Test cricket began at Melbourne just under two years later. However Leinster were then routed for 61 with Daniel once again being second top score, this time with 9. The visitors made 116 at their second attempt, eight of their wickets falling to Daniel, his haul including batsmen Tom Armitage and George "Happy Jack" Ulyett all rounder Tom Emmett and paceman Allen Hill, all to be members of that inaugural Test side.
It is, therefore, unsurprising that Daniel was selected for Ireland, though he was to play only four times, partly because of the shortage of fixtures played by the national side at the time. In his four appearances all against I Zingari,, one of which being 12 a side does not appear in his statistics on this site, he took 41 wickets at 10.80, taking five or more in an innings on four occasions. I Zingari did not always produce the strongest of sides, they always included some good players and Daniel, as we have seen, could dismiss the best.
His debut match was at The Vice Regal Ground. In a low scoring 12 a side match his bowling was largely responsible for Ireland winning by 48 runs. Bowling almost unchanged throughout the match, Daniel had figures of 29.2 - 9 - 42 - 8 in the first innings and 31.2 - 12 - 58 - 6 in the second. Even allowing for the 4 ball overs then in vogue this was a remarkable feat of accuracy and hostility. Among the batsmen to fall to him was AJ Webbe, then just out of Harrow but to captain Oxford and Middlesex, besides playing once against Australia. In his first innings against Ireland he was brilliantly caught by Leland Hone off Daniel for 50, five years later Webbe and Hone would make the sole Test appearances in the same match .
The following year at the Phoenix ground, Daniel and Rev Joseph Byrne proved too much for the visitors after Ireland had been bowled out for 94 with Daniel at 10 topscoring with an undefeated and hard hitting 27. He then took the lead in bowling the Zingaros out for exactly 100 with figures of 5-40 in 20 overs. Promoted to open in the second innings he made 13 as Ireland reached 265. IZ then collapsed for 58. with Daniel (5-41) and Byrne (5-10) sharing the wickets.
1876 saw an IZ victory by 3 wickets at the Vice Regal after Ireland had recovered somewhat, having followed on. Daniel took only one wicket in the second innings but had produced a notable tour de force in the first. Opening the bowling, and again bowling almost unchanged, he returned figures of 50 - 22 - 131 - 6.
The 1877 match, this time at the Phoenix, is best remembered for Ireland's first hat trick, performed by the fast underarmer Tom Hanna of the Ulster Club. Hanna, however, was less successful overall than Daniel, who had 10 wickets in the match, including 6-47 in the first innings, when he cleaned up the lower order as the visitors collapsed from a comfortable 74-3 to 99 all out. Eventually Hanna's spell on the third morning of the match, brought about an Irish victory by 23 runs.
Daniel Andrew Neill was not to play for Ireland again, though he continued to play with success both in Limerick and Dublin for several years. A photograph shows him as a member of the Leinster CC team in 1884. Tragically a year later he was dead. Aged only 35, one of Ireland's most outstandingly successful bowlers was buried with his parents who had predeceased him.
Edward Liddle, October 2011