- Born 12 September 1864 Dublin
- Died 8 June 1947, Dublin
- Educated Ushaw College, Durham; Dublin University.
- Occupation Barrister
- Debut 3 August 1883 v MCC at Lord's
- Cap Number 176
- Style Right hand bat, wicket keeper also slow right arm round arm bowler.
- Teams Dublin University, Phoenix.
James Maxwell was the second of four brothers who, between them, appeared for Dublin University for thirteen years from 1882. All were educated at Ushaw College near Durham, their time there being described in the biography of the eldest, John, which will also be found on this site. James, the best cricketer in the family, was known as a sound batsman, who had a delightful late cut and could hit powerfully. He was a capable though infrequent wicket keeper, and an occasional "golden arm" bowler.
He entered Dublin University in the autumn of 1881, John having preceded him by two terms. He found a place in the XI the following summer, and was ever present until 1887, even though he had been called to the Bar in 1886. For the University, he scored 1696 runs at 18.84, a very respectable average for the time. His best season was his last in which he made 461 runs at 29.10, including his highest score of 98. He played in all their leading matches, and for the Past and Present XI, until his final match v WG's South of England XI in 1890. However he met with little success, having a double failure when leading the side against Philadelphia in 1884, and, more disappointingly, failing again v An England XI in 1887. This was a combined Yorkshire/Lancashire side which won by only one wicket. The failure of James and Dominic Cronin, two of the hosts leading batsmen was, therefore crucial.
In all matches for Ireland, including two 12 a side cap matches on the 1888 American tour (which will not be found in his statistics on this site as more than 11 players a side were involved), he scored 315 runs at 16.57, a superior average to that of highly thought of batsman, David Trotter, and took 2 wickets at 23. His best innings for Ireland came in his first match v MCC at Lord's in 1883, in which he was one of five debutants, including Walter Johnston who captained the side and Hynes. This was Ireland's first visit to Lord's for four years and was to result in their fi rst loss there in six matches. The leading MCC bowler was William Attewell, then at the outset of his career which was to see him play ten Tests and finish with 1950 first class wickets at 15.33. He bowled James, opening the batting, for 9 in the first innings, and was altogether too much for the Irish batting. MCC led on first innings by 158, but Ireland did much better at their second attempt. William Hone, junior, usually seen as the best bat in that family, made his second fifty of the match, and James, happier at 4 in this innings, made a well received 69, which was to remain his highest score for Ireland. He showed his late cut to perfection; besides twice hitting the formidable Attewell clean out of Lord's. Ireland lost in the end, Johnston allowing the hosts extra time to finish their run chase, but James and Hone had done much to redeem earlier disaster. He maintained this good form in the other match of this short tour making 47 against the Aldershot Division, in a match which rain probably prevented Ireland winning.
He also had a fair match against the Philadelphians at Rathmines the following summer in a game which came directly after his disappointing match for Dublin University against the tourists. He had to keep wicket as AJ Fleming withdrew. He was not keeping regularly for the University and the bye count was rather large in the first innings, but he settled down to do a good job behind the stumps. In the first his 16 was one of only three double figure scores, he was caught by Titanic victim millionaire JB Thayer off left armer William Lowry, who was regarded as one of the best bowlers but poorest batsmen in American cricket at the time. Lowry was to have him again in the second innings for 23 as Ireland, out for 88 in the first innings put up a better show, but could not avoid a six wicket defeat.
Ireland's team for the North American tour of 1888 relied heavily on past and present University men. Nevertheless, James would probably have not been asked to make the trip, organised by Hynes but captained by Cronin following a shipboard election, had not a number of players including Trotter, Jack Nunn and the Hamilton brothers, been unavailable.
His best cap match was in the first Canada game which Ireland won inside two days so that another was arranged. Ireland won because of a very good all round performance from Hynes and some top class bowling by John Fitzgerald, a fast medium round armer. Coming in at 4 in the first innings, following two quick wickets at the end of a sound opening stand, James, revealing the trade mark late cut, made good 39. He had a productive but brief stand with Hynes (62), and then put on 50 for the 4th wicket with Edward Fitzgerald.
In the United States, he played in the four cap matches, two of which were, as we have seen, 12 a side. Against Longwood XII, Ireland found themselves caught on a wicket described as being, "bumpy, lumpy, and sodden." Longwood's English professional "Ike" Chambers, a Yorkshireman, had 13-79 in the match. The Irish won by 5 runs so every run was vital. Thus, though James was out to Chambers for 0 in the first innings, he contributed well to the victory by making 14 in the second. He was described as "playing well", until he was caught at long on.
The last match of the tour was a 12 a sider against Philadelphia, the visitors agreeing at short notice to this arrangement. James had to keep wicket for part of the match as Edward Fitzgerald had several bowling spells. In the end Ireland lost by 39 runs, chasing 255. James had made 31 when he trod on his wicket, in the act of hitting his old adversary, Lowry out of the ground.
He had also batted well in the non cap matches in Canada, though he developed an alarming propensity for getting run out, falling this way in five of his seven innings.. The other two innings came in the same match v Northern Counties at Orilla and saw James at his best, though the match was drawn. He was undefeated in both, his scores of 46 and 64 not being bettered by any other batsman.
He continued to play for Ireland until 1891, though he did little more of note. In the 1889 IZ match, he was one of three wickets to fall to former Cambridge off spinner, Frank Cobden, who had written his name in cricket history by doing the hat trick with the last three balls of the 1870 University match to win the game by 3 runs. Cobden later opened a hotel in Snowdonia, where the ball can, or could some 20 years ago, still be seen. Be warned however if you stop off on the A5 to see it. There at least three other "Cobden's Match" balls in existence!
James Patrick Maxwell became a successful barrister and was still in working shortly before he died just short of his 83rd birthday.
Edward Liddle, February 2009