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Biography
John William Frederick Arthur Crawfurd
  • Born 22 July 1895, Ballynahinch, Co Down
  • Died 22 June 1939, Dolhhin's Barn, Dublin
  • Educated Merchant Taylors' School Northwood Middlesex, Oxford University
  • Occupation Brewer
  • Debut 2 May 1907 v Yorhshire at Woodbrook
  • Cap Number 262
  • Style Left-hand bat, left-arm fast medium
  • Teams Oxford University, Harlequins, Surrey, Phoenix, Ireland, MCC, Lionel Robinson's XI

John Crawford was a leading all round sportsman at school, shining not only on the cricket field but also as rugby player. Tall and thickset, he was a forcing middle order batsman and a fast medium bowler whose talents were under used by a range of captains, including, it would appear, himself. At Oxford, where he also gained a Rugby blue, he was two years in the University XI, becoming the first former pupil of Merchant Taylors to gain a Cricket blue. He made an impressive start to his first class career scoring 67 v London County in The Parks at the end of May 1900. He put on 197 for the 7th wicket with BJT Bosanquet, who made 125. Oxford won easily by an innings as heavy rain, and an injury to WG ruined the County innings.

Crawfurd had another good match in The Parks against Worcestershire later in the season, when he top scored with 72 to prepare the ground for a 4-wicket victory. Though his first class career was to last for a further, somewhat intermittent, 25 years, this was to remain his highest first class score.

In 1902, he had two half centuries: 67 v AJ Webbe' XI and 50* v MCC at Lord's. The first match was lost heavily, in the second his innings earned the University a draw. He also had a respectable match v Surrey at the Oval, defying the great Tom Richardson to make 44, in the second innings, though the "Mitcham Express" got him in the end. Later in the season he appeared for the County in a non first class match, but this did not lead to first team selection.

That season also saw him in Dublin making an undefeated 211 against the RIC, he was always to take heavy toll of weak attacks. Three years later he had a remarkable all round match against the Curragh Brigade, another less than formidable opposition, scoring 125* in the second innings and taking 15-125 in the match, including all ten second innings.One of several Oxbridge graduates employed at St James' Gate, EL Kidd was to become another, he hit a further double hundred in 1913, 211 v Leinster, but his form for Ireland was less impressive.

In early May 1907, Yorkshire came to play Ireland in the opening match on Stanley Cochrane's Woodbrook ground. John, opening, was out straight away to A George Hirst inswinger for 0. The great man got him again in the second innings for 14. Later in the summer, still opening he failed again v South Africa. The tourists had four googly bowlers that year and puzzled all leading English batsmen. Hence it was no disgrace for Crawfurd to fail, falling twice to Reggie Schwarz. Unlike his three compatriots Reggie, a converted fast bowler, bowled only googlies, having no leg break, he was still too much for most batsmen! Crawfurd did not play for Ireland again until after the War, when he made 63* v The Military of Ireland in the tragic match in College Park on 3 June 1921. Play was abandoned after two gunmen fired through the Nassau Street railings before riding off on bicycles. Their intended targets, the Military, were in the field but were unhurt as were the batsmen, Crawfurd and Bob Lambert. A young girl undergraduate, Katherine Wright was shot in the back and later died.

Crawfurd's final match for Ireland was v Scotland in 1923. He captained the side, but had yet another failure, as he managed only 7 and 1. It is worth noting that, though he used 8 bowlers as the Scots neared 400, he did not use himself. He must be regarded as one of the major disappointments of his era in Irish representative matches in 7 innings, he scored only 69 runs, 63 being scored against the Military, by far the weakest attack he faced.

He also appeared for Lionel Robinson's XI v Oxford in 1914, without conspicuous success. Robinson was an Australian millionaire who enjoyed raising private cricket teams, he was no Kerry Packer, however being a would be country gentleman and establishment figure. This match was made famous by Sir Timothy O'Brien emerging from a turbulent retirement in Co Cork to score 90 and 111. As late as 1927, Crawfurd played his final first class match, for Harlequins, a team of former blues against the University at Oxford. Spanning the generations the team included DR Jardine and RC Robertson Glasgow. Crawfurd made 21. Lest it br thought that his Irish cricket was all disaster, this profile concludes with some account of his League appearances for Phoenix. He was 41 when the Leinster Senior League began but he became one of its most prominent figures in the early years. Phoenix won the trophy four times in the early 1920s, with Crawfurd returning the following: Matches 68, innings 72, not out 7, runs 2638, highest score 186, average 40.58. Bowling: 761 runs, 50 wickets, average 15.22

The Club did not appoint regular captains at this stage, they were chosen on a match by match basis. In the words of Club's History "There was the veteran left handed hitter JWF Crawfurd who usually captained the side when he played." Looking at a team photograph of 1919, it is easy to see why. He sits in the front row, a commanding and somewhat awe inspiring figure. Even EL Kidd and the philosopher cleric Arthur Aston Luce paled by comparison. It is indeed to be regretted that the national team only once saw him at his best and that that innings was cut short by a tragedy beside which failure at cricket is of little account.

His obituary, which makes no mention of his Irish cricket is in Wisden 1940.

Edward Liddle, May 2007, updated May 2015

Photographs
International Matches
View Match ireland lost to Yorkshire by an Innings and 1 run (2 Day, Woodbrook, 2 May 1907)
View Match Ireland lost to South Africa by 151 runs (3 Day, College Park, 5 August 1907)
View Match Ireland drew with Military Ireland (2 Day, College Park, 3 June 1921)
View Match Ireland drew with Scotland (3 Day, College Park, 21 June 1923)