- Born 31 May 1872 Dublin
- Died Q4 1951 Dublin
- Debut 30 June 1904 v South Africa at The Mardyke
- Cap Number 251
- Style Right hand batsman; right arm medium pace.
- Teams Leinster
Edward Donavon was a useful all round cricketer. A medium pace opening bowler, his figures might have been more impressive had he played for another club than Leinster. As it was, while he did sterling work for the Rathmines club for more than a decade, he usually bowled in the shadow of the two off spinners Bob Lambert and Bill Harrington, who tended to leave slim pickings for their team-mates. Edward was also a sound middle order batsman who might well have batted higher in the order on several of his international appearances. For Leinster, however, he was again in the shadow of Lambert, who was, of course, invariably accompanied by his brother SD, in compiling tall scores at Observatory Lane.
Edward was a member of the Leinster side on its London tour of 1903. This included a match against WG's London County side at Crystal Palace, the ground then, of course, dominated by the grand edifice that gave it its name. Edward failed twice with the bat as Leinster did well to avoid an innings defeat, owing much to a stylish second innings half century from Bob Lambert, but Edward also had his hour, when he joined luminaries such as Arthur Conan Doyle, in being able to claim that he had, "captured that glorious wicket." WG. now 54, heavily built and rather ponderous in his movements, had come in at No 5, but had made short work of most of the Leinster attack, Bob Lambert included. Harrington was not playing, either there was a crisis on his Co Kildare farm, or spending the time of the tour in Ireland enabled him to play even more cricket, the latter seems more likely! At any rate, The Doctor had reached 93. and undoubtedly had his sights set on yet another hundred, when Edward bowled him. It was no mean feat to remove the "Old Man" at any time, but to do so when he was closing on three figures was, despite his age, an achievement of the first order.
Edward played five times for Ireland between 1904 and 1907, though one of the matches v I Zingari in 1906, does not appear in his statistics on this site as it was 12 a side.
His Irish debut the following year was in the famous victory over the South African tourists. The dominant figure in the match was the Phoenix man Tom Ross. As is related elsewhere on this site, Ross was too much for the visitors who were caught on a rain affected wicket, after a moderate Irish first innings to which Edward had contributed an undefeated 1. He was again the gainer of a "star" in the second innings making 4. He then played a minor part in South Africa's second innings, having 1-17, he had not got on in the first. His victim, caught by Gus Kelly at mid off as the "Colonials" reverted to the long handle in an effort to salvage something from the game, was middle order batsman Stanley Horwood. Stanley was, it must be admitted, hardly a prize scalp. His first class career average was 14.23, while on the tour, having been picked for his batting, he managed only 103 runs at 10.03.
Edward retained his place for the two matches against Cambridge University which followed closely on the South African contest. At The Mardyke, Ireland fielded a largely experimental side and were soundly beaten by an almost full strength Light Blue combination. Edward had two second innings wickets, but was one of the Irish successes with the bat. Batting at 8, he made 17*, joint top scorer with Bob Lambert, as Ireland collapsed against the slow left arm of Fred Wilson and the pace of Eric Mann. When Ireland batted again they trailed by 189. Going in first with Lambert, Edward, a tall thinly built man whom used his height well when coming forward, made 38. justifying his promotion, before being bowled by slow right armer Richard Keigwin. Richard was a remarkable all round sportsman, who played cricket and tennis and football at a high level, besides being a hockey international. The last known surviving eye witness of the 628* by AEJ Collins in a Clifton College House Match in 1899, he also found time to become a highly respected Danish into English translator and an authority on Hans Christian Andersen.
Ireland reverted to a full strength side for the second fixture, at Rathmines, but Edward did not get a bowl on his home turf. Back at no 10, he made an undefeated 4 as Ireland won with some comfort.
It was again as a batsman that Edward featured most prominently in the IZ match of 1906, the last encounter in this long running series. The famous Vice Regal ground was specially reopened for the occasion, accounts as to how the wicket played after such a long period of inactivity vary. Ireland recorded a fine victory by 253 runs but the match was, at one stage fairly close. In the second innings, Edward who had made 1 in the first innings at No 7 was promoted up the order to 5. Here he made a hard hitting 26, adding 69 for the 4th wicket with Frank Browning and thus helping to put any potential target out of the Zingaros reach. In both innings he was dismissed by the paceman Hesketh Hesketh-Prichard. Bowled in the first, he was caught in the second by Viscount Hawkesbury, later second Earl of Liverpool. Hawkesbury used his courtesy title rather than his family name. No surprise as he was christened Arthur William De Brito Savile Fojambe!
The following year saw Edward's final match for Ireland against Yorkshire. This was the first Match played at Stanley Cochrane's Woodbrook ground, and resulted in a 10 wicket win for the County. Edward was able, however, to ring down the curtain on his international career by rubbing shoulders with two of cricket's greatest all rounders. In the visitors first innings, they batted after winning the toss, he bowled the great Wilfred Rhodes for 10. Wilfred who scored almost 40000 first class runs besides taking over 4000 wickets, was trying to cut. He must have forgotten his own mantra, "No cuts before lunch and no hooking before tea!" 3* in the first innings, Edward reached 2 in his second knock before being dismissed by George Hirst, Rhodes' great friend and also all rounder supreme.
Details of Edward's life away from cricket remain to be discovered. He is not- as far as it has been possible to discern - to be found in either the 1901 or 1911 Census, nor is his son Robert (1899 - 1932) who played once for Ireland v Scotland in 1921. Both, however, were born and died In Dublin. Any information on either would be most welcome.
Edward James Conway Donavon is now largely forgotten in Irish cricket. However as a man who dismissed both WG Grace and Wilfred Rhodes, which is more than many better known bowlers achieved, he deserves his place in any record of the game.
Edward Liddle, July 2010