- Born 23 January 1858 Kilknock, Co Carlow
- Died 29 January 1933, Ravenswood House Newtownbarry, Co Wexford
- Educated Bessborough School Grove House, Tottenham, London; Cambridge University
- Occupation Barrister
- Debut 25 August 1884 v I Zingari at Phoenix CC, Phoenix Park
- Cap Number 187
- Style Right-hand bat; slow spin bowler.
- Teams Co Carlow
Robert Pike came from a distinguished and long established Anglo-Irish land owning family. As a cricketer he was prominent at school, and, though never coming near the University XI while at Cambridge, played for his College and was known s a very skilful spin bowler, slower than most. It has been impossible definitely to establish whether he bowled left or right arm, though evidence suggests the former. Definite information in this matter would be welcome.
Back in Ireland, a practising barrister, he was a regular in the Co Carlow side for many years. Cricket was strong there in late Victorian times, suffering less from the effects of the land war and the GAA ban, than was the case in some other rural centres. The County had a full fixture list, visiting Dublin to play Phoenix, the University and Leinster as well as entertaining these sides at home. They also received annual visits from Na Shuler, in 1890 accompanied by TC O'Brien, fresh from an epic innings for the Lyric Club against the Australians. They also played a host of rural teams and many military teams.
In 1890, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers were easily beaten, largely because Robert took 8 wickets in the innings at a small cost. Robert was often seen in Na Shuler matches and was a regular participant in their Cork tour in the late seventies and early eighties. Thus in 1879, he took 10 wickets in the match at The Mardyke v Cork County to help the Shulers to thrilling one run win. The following year, his bowling was too much for Lord Bandon's XIV,. He took 14 in the match, which was fortunate for the visitors as the game finished in a tie! A third 10 wicket haul came in 1883, when he took 8 first innings wickets to bowl the County out for 61, However he managed only two in the second, as the hosts, following on, played out time. He also made several successful appearances for the County, but always retained a strong link with Carlow cricket, being a Vice President of his club in 1913.
He made his debut for Ireland against I Zingari in 1884 at Phoenix CC. Ireland batted first and were bundled out for 95. This would have been much worse had Pike, not known for his batting skills, not contributed 18, adding 32 for the 9th wicket with AJ Fleming, often seen as the best Irish batsman of the time, who carried his bat for 45. Robert then opened the bowling with Henry Dawson, a left arm medium pacer reputedly lost on the Titanic, though it has proved impossible to find his name on any approved passenger list. They caused problems for the early IZ batting, after starting with a maiden piece. Robert had CFC Clarke, an occasional Surrey batsman caught at mid on, then held a good slip catch to dispose of the new batsman FE Allsop. He finished with 2-58, besides holding another slip catch. Some sub standard wicket keeping by JN Lombard deprived him of at least one more scalp. IZ won by ten wickets, but he had made a fair debut. Selection was not always consistent at the time, and this, allied to the demands of the legal profession, meant that he did he did not play again for 5 years.
When he next played, it was to have his best match for Ireland, against probably the strongest opposition he bowled to, the 1889 Philadelphians. His match figures were a good, if not exceptional 9 / 151, while in the first innings he returned 36 - 9 - 87 - 5. At the other end paceman H F Woodgate, in his last match for Ireland, took 4/53. They had a large part in Ireland's being able to set the visitors 294 to win. Robert again bowled well, getting 4 /64 as the Americans finished 95 short of their target with 6 wickets down. Two factors saved them. One was Irish catching, or rather the lack of it. Pike saw George Patterson, the stylish Philadelphian opener, missed twice at the wicket by ER Fitzgerald, usually a highly regarded wicket keeper. In desperation Robert removed Patterson with a caught and bowled. The second reason that prevented an Irish win was that Robert, presumably needed in court shortly, had to leave the match early.
He was to play in the next three IZ matched before pressure of work meant that he was no longer available for longer matches. In 1889 he took the last two IZ wickets to fall, thereby establishing a connection with famous Lord's matches past and future. Both his victims were stumped by the excellent NICC wicket keeper, William Vint, now returned from an Australian sojourn and back in his rightful place behind the stumps. First to go was RH Fowler, whose son Bob hero of 'Fowler's Match', the remarkable Eton v Harrow game of 1910 would be born 20 months later. Next, the last of the innings, was Frank Cobden, hero of 'Cobden's Match', the 1870 University match in which he performed the hat trick in the last over to give Cambridge a 2 run victory. Though Robert was to take 2/29 in his farewell match in 1891, his last scalp of real interest was claimed in his penultimate game in 1890. Here he bowled in support of George Berkeley (7/20) to take 2/49 in the first innings. This was the visitor's opener Prince Christian Victor Albert Ludwig Ernest Anton of Schleswig - Holstein, grandson of Queen Victoria, and a capable cricketer with a score of 35 in his sole first class match, besides making 205 in a military match in Rawalpindi in 1893. He died of typhoid during the Boer War.
An obituary of Robert Lecky Pike, covering his legal rather than cricket career, was published in The Times on 31 January 1933.
Edward Liddle, November 2007