- Born 11 August 1877 Nenagh, Co Tipperary
- Died 15 November 1914 Ranelagh, Dublin
- Occupation Civil Servant
- Debut 5 August 1907 v South Africa at College Park
- Cap Number 266
- Style Right-hand bat, Right Arm Medium
- Teams Civil Service, Phoenix, Woodbrook
George Morrow, tall, thin and upstanding, was a fine, forcing batsman, who usually opened the batting. Quick on his feet and strong wristed, he was also a Badminton International; he took on bowlers with straight and off drives. He also possessed a sound defensive technique, allowing him to prosper against bowlers of the calibre of Wilfred Rhodes and JB King, when his team mates faltered. He was associated with both Civil Service and Phoenix, unlike many others who played for both sides; he never deserted the less famous one, always wishing to be regarded as a "Service", player and never turning out against them.
He first caught the attention of the Dublin cricket public in 1899, when he hit what was described as, "A brilliant century," for Civil Service v The Land Commission. This was in the same week as a 14 year old schoolboy, AEJ Collins, was scoring 628* in a House Match at Clifton College, Bristol. Strangely, both were to die in the same week in 1914, Morrow, who, for all his success had never enjoyed lasting good health, in a Dublin nursing home, and Collins, four days later, in the first Battle of Ypres.
1900 saw Morrow gain selection for the Leinster Interprovincial XI v Ulster, though the match was boycotted by Phoenix, as part of the long running dispute between the Dublin Clubs, which had begun over the selection of the Irish side to pay I Zingari, the previous year. 1900 also witnessed a big hitting achievement in a club match v Leinster CC. During an innings of 46, George became the first man to hit a 6 over the Civil Service pavilion. For good measure, he did it twice.
Two years later, the inter-club dispute was healed and a four match, first class tour of England arranged. George was one of those asked to play in the Trial at College Park in April. Here, selected for what resembled a Probable's XI, he seems to have been a victim of Sir Timothy O'Brien's sometimes strange batting order decisions. Placed at 9 in the order, below certainties such as Tom Ross, primarily a bowler, George was out for 0 and got no second chance. Lesser known batsmen were up the order in the opposing XI, it would surely have been better for George to have been placed there.
In 1907, when Stanley Cochrane opened his Woodbrook ground, Civil Service became the first Irish club to play there. In a 2-day match, they made full use of the excellent wicket, reaching a club record 338. George also made a club record score of 197, going in first. He was denied a double hundred, by a spectator walking across the sight screen, when he was on 192. Though he hit a further boundary, his concentration was broken.
He reached the coveted two hundred mark for Phoenix againstt he Dublin Garrison in 1910 with an excellent 232 adding a further double century against Co Galway the following season with an undefeated 202. Another outstanding Phoenix performance came the following year, when he made a hundred in each innings: 150 and 138* v The Royal Artillery. He became only the second man in Irish cricket to perform this feat. He was beaten by one year to being the first, Jack Meldon having done so in the identical match. One other non-International performance should be noted, which again showed George's liking for Woodbrook. In 1911, opening the batting for Woodbrook against the touring All India XI, in a fixture played because the provincial unions could not agree about a representative match, he hit a second innings 110, crucial in setting up a 35 run victory.
His debut for Ireland was in the 12-a-side match v I Zingari at the Vice Regal Ground in 1902. The scorecard can be found on this site, but it does not appear in the statistics of Morrow, or any of the other players as it involved more than 11-a-side. Coming into the match as a replacement, he was run out for 8 in the first innings and caught off AM Ward, shortly to become a Conservative MP, in the second. He appeared again the following year against the South African touring team.
He was dismissed for a pair, which was no disgrace as only Bob Lambert and FH Browning showed an ability to cope with the unique attack. South Africa based their bowling in the Tests on four googly bowlers, three played in this match. Even the great Jack Hobbs admitted to not being able to "pick" the, though he was genius enough to play them off the pitch. George fell to Bert Volger, later to be a star in the Woodbrook firmament, in the first innings, and Reggie Schwarz, who bowled only googlies, in the second. Like Morrow Reggie was to die before his time. Having survived the horrors of the trenches, he fell victim to the great 'flu epidemic of 1918.
In 1908, Yorkshire, with six of the side that won the Championship that season, came to College Park, where Ireland had just been outplayed by Philadelphia. The Irish, having just faced Bart King, were probably pleased that their great swing bowler of the day, George Hirst, did not travel. However the slow left arm of the magnificent Wilfred Rhodes and the off spin of JT Newstead, was more than enough for Ireland. George, who came in as substitute following several withdrawals, batted at 4 and top scored in each innings. His first dismissal, caught at slip off Rhodes for 14, precipitated a collapse. In the second he and Ireland did better. His 49, described in Derek Scott's match account as, "a sterling innings," was the main feature of Ireland's follow on. His innings was again ended by a slip catch off Rhodes.
The American tour of 1909 marked the high point of his Irish career. It was, however, only because so many players pulled out, that he went at all. On the batting front, three Meldons, two Lamberts and, probably the best of all of them, William Pollock, were unable to make the trip. As Frank Browning completely lost form, George became the main batsman against King and the leg spinning Australian doctor HV Hordern, the Warne of his day. Ireland, apart from George proved unable to cope. Had Pollock and one of the others been present to help out things might have been different, but then George might not have made the boat.
He began confidently in the non-cap matches in Canada and also steered Ireland to victory v All New York. Then came the first Philadelphia match. In conditions made for him, the great Bart King had a field day. He took all 10 for 53, as Ireland fell for 111. Only George, who carried his bat for 50 could cope, though on 15, he was clean bowled by a King no ball. Using eye witness accounts, Derek Scott's report tells us," Morrow's splendid 50 not out were absolutely fabulous and he dealt with King very well." He also shone as a "last resort" bowler, claiming 4-42, as the Americans built a commanding total. He was one of only two to reach double figures as King again destroyed the batting in the second innings.
The second match followed a similar course though this time "Ranji" Hordern got among the wickets. With 35 and 22 George was again the only batsman to show lasting confidence, though Harry Read smote a few lusty blows.
Back in Ireland George was to play three more times, but in only one match did he prosper. This was in the Scots match of 1910 in College Park, which was dominated by the leg spin of JH Bruce - Lockhart for Scotland and Bob Lambert's off spin for Ireland. The innings which won the match for the home side was Tom Ross' second innings 89, but George contributed 26 and, going after Bruce-Lockhart hit him for an enormous six over mid wicket, which broke a window in a Nassau Street shop.
Illness, after 1912 when he played without success against South Africa, reduced his effectiveness, and, though he did score a century, against Phoenix, in 1913, his best days were behind him. He died a Dublin nursing home as the guns sounded over Europe. Wisden, flooded out with war death notices, including one for Collins, found space for his obituary in the 1915 Almanac.
Perhaps he has been best summed up by First Class Service: A History of Civil Service Cricket Club. "He played many long innings, but he never played a dull one."
Edward Liddle, October 2007, updated May 2015