- Debut 21 August 1899 v I Zingari at Vice Regal Ground, Phoenix Park
- Cap Number 240
- Style Left hand bat, slow right arm.
- Teams Pembroke, Phoenix
NOTE: Unfortunately full identification of this player has proved impossible. The only CG Mitchell to appear in the Irish Census for either 1901 or 1911 is a nine year old boy in the latter year. The 1901 Census shows several Charles Mitchells (no other with a first name beginning with C) but all seem very unlikely to be the cricketer. There is, however, a George Cullen Mitchell, a bank manager, who was born in Co Leitrim in 1861 who might be the player concerned but while confusion of initials may have occurred one or two occasions it is unlikely to have been permanent, without having been corrected. We would, therefore welcome any information which might lead to a proper identification, even if only to eliminate one or more of those mentioned. The bank manager was married with a family, it would be most interesting to hear from any descendants to confirm or deny his having been the cricketer. In the notice which follows the player is referred to as CGM.
CGM was a useful all round cricketer. A good batsman, usually in the lower middle order, he was also a slow right arm bowler of some skill. He was well known as a safe and sometimes brilliant fielder in positions away from the bat. No doubt he was a fast and agile mover in the field, as befitted an excellent hockey player, he was also capped for Ireland at this sport.
An established and successful member of the Pembroke Club, he made his debut for Ireland against I Zingari at the Vice Regal Ground in late August 1899. This match was hit by a selection dispute among the Dublin clubs which rumbled on for the next three years. Phoenix objected to having only (!) six of their players in the Irish side and withdrew them. Ireland thus fielded six substitutes from the original selection, though CGM was a first choice. The hosts were outclassed in the match with Sir TC O'Brien, not yet playing for his native country, hitting a brilliant century and BJT Bosanquet, inventor of the googly, twice running through the Irish side. No wrong uns - much less flippers, sliders and zooters - were on view, Bosanquet was then a pure and simple fast bowler.
CGM did not have a bad match in comparison with some of his team-mates, Opening the bowling with Bob Lambert, he had Charles Coote, son of the Irish cricketer of the same name, caught behind by Sep Lambert for a duck with the score at 8. He met with no further success, finishing with 1-54 and proving, bar the inevitable Bill Harrington, one of the more economical Irish bowlers. Coming in at 9 as Ireland struggled unsuccessfully to save the follow on, he had reached 17* at close of play on the first day. He was described as "playing well" but was out first thing the following morning without addition to his score, falling to Old Harrovian Ronald Moncrieffe. He did little in the second innings, being dismissed by Bosanquet for 7. As the match finished early an unofficial one day match was played.
Ireland had the better of this drawn game. CGM did not bat but took 4 wickets, including that of Bosanquet, who was also a very good batsman. Phoenix supporters may be interested to know that when, a day or two later, Na Shuler took on IZ, with several of the Phoenix "cracks" in the side, the visitors were soundly beaten!
Two years later saw the South Africans in Ireland on a tour which was not without controversy. The visitors were too weak for most of the English opposition they met and were heavily criticised for making the trip at all. Many thought they should have been at home fighting the Boers. They were in fact short of some of their best players who were involved in the war, but on the other side! The Irish match again suffered from a dispute with most of the Dublin clubs, led by Leinster and Pembroke, objecting to Phoenix having organised the match and refusing to allow their players appear.
CGM, however, did so though he was shown as a member of Pembroke. He did, however, have some connection with Phoenix and, presumably, played as a member of that club, just as Harrington, a Leinster man, appeared as a member of Co Kildare. The visitors won the match by 5 wickets, with CGM, who had not been given a bowl in the first innings, coming on in the second to take the wicket of Murray Bisset, the captain and one of the successes of the tour, scoring over 1000 runs in all matches. An excellent wicket keeper who played in three Tests and stood up to the fastest bowling, he was later knighted, becoming first Chief Justice and then Acting Governor of Rhodesia. CGM's real mark on this match was as a batsman. Coming in at 9, in the first innings, when the score was 143-7, he stayed to make 24 before being caught and bowled by slow left armer George Rowe, adding 34 for the last wicket with Harrington.
The following year the selection dispute was healed but CGM was not in the running for the Irish side which toured England under O'Brien's captaincy. He did, however, reappear in 1903, when WG brought his London County side to Ireland for two matches: v Dublin University in College Park and Ireland at The Mardyke. Both the host sides attempted to prepare well for the match, a two day game between the University and a side styled the Gentlemen of Ireland being played in College Park. Unfortunately several players withdrew which reduced the value of the match. Further the University batting twice against the Gentlemen's' bowling. CGM bowled six wicketless overs,, but batted impressively in his only innings, making 58* at No 9, putting on 114 for the 9th wicket with Arthur Prosser. They helped to post a total of 336, ensuring an innings victory.
He was thus selected for the Mardyke match which ended in a draw with Ireland, needing 140 in 45 minutes, finishing on 42-5, having otherwise been on top for much of the game. Grace, who had made a duck in College Park, was determined to do better in Cork, but having won the toss was caught by CGM off Bob Lambert for 1 in the first over. Legend relates that he refused to leave the wicket, possibly muttering his old war cry of "Can't have it ! Won't have it1 Shan't have it!" and had to be escorted off by the Cork County President Sir George Colthurst. The provenance for this tale is good but the Doctor was caught at mid off so can hardly have been disputing the fact that he was out! CGM distinguished himself in the field again in the second innings, brilliantly catching the professional Charles Greenway to end the visitors' second innings. Batting, he made 16* in the first innings but sent in at 3 in the second was bowled by future double Ashes losing captain JWHT Douglas for 7. To be fair, Douglas also won the mythical trophy on one occasion!
That same summer CGM also appeared for both Pembroke and Phoenix against a visiting English side The Remnants. He batted well enough for phoenix who recorded a good win, but neither he nor his Sydney Parade team-mated could make much of the same bowling some two days later.
Edward Liddle, May 2011