- Born 25 September 1888 Ormeau, Belfast
- Died 17 December 1979 Belfast
- Educated Rosetta School, Belfast
- Debut 21 June 1923 v Scotland at Rathmines
- Cap Number 316
- Style Left-hand batsman; slow left arm bowler
- Teams Ulster CC; NICC
Harold Jackson was a member of a famous cricket family. He was one of six cricket playing brothers, the sons of Walter Jackson, a Ballynafeigh stalwart of the 1880s. Harold apart, the best cricketer in the family was his younger brother Finlay, a sound middle order batsman capped for Ireland at both cricket and rugby.
Harold himself was elegance personified at the crease. This was never better seen than in a wartime friendly in the dark days of 1916, when he lit up Ballynafeigh with a century scored in 35 minutes. Contemporaries fortunate enough to have seen them both, likened him to Frank Woolley, others saw him as a left handed Trumper. This suggests that, to take a more modern perspective, his style was more akin to that of David Gower and Graeme Pollock, than the tenacious methods of Justin Langer or rumbustious effectiveness of Graeme Smith. He was famed as an emptier of public houses, mine hosts in the Ballynafeigh area did little business, when Ulster batted and Harold was at the wicket.
He played in his first NCU Cup Final in 1909, being one of three players in the match to pass 90 without managing the coveted three figures. Ulster won by an innings, despite a typically commanding batting performance by Oscar Andrews for opponents NICC. In all Harold was to play in five finals, the last, the Ulster Club having ceased, for NICC in 1938, when he was not far short of his 50th birthday. He did have two Cup hundreds to his credit. In the 1911 Semi Final for Ulster against Banbridge, he opened the innings as Ulster faced a moderate target of 130. Batting after the match had been won by 8 wickets, the Ballynafeigh side finished on 155-2 with Harold on a highly praised 103*, a brilliant knock which included 19 fours. In a first round match against Cliftonville in 1923 his dominant 102 enabled Ulster to post a formidable 242-5 preparing the way for Jack Hampton to bowl them to victory.
His representative debut came for the province of Ulster against All India at Ormeau in August 1911. His was a double failure but he was in good company. Ulster were hustled out for 26 and 65, only one batsman in each innings reaching double figures. Neither was Harold, whose contributions were 0 and 2. In the first innings he was caught off the pace of Salam-ud-in Khan, an early member of a great cricket family. His nephew was Indian and Oxford fast bowler Jehangir Khan which made him the great uncle of Majid Khan, captain of Oxford, Glamorgan and Pakistan, whose numerous cricketing cousins included two more Oxford and Pakistan captains Javed Burki and the great Imran Khan himself. This tour was captained by the legendary Maharajah of Patiala, said to have more concubines than he scored first class runs. Cricket Archive shows his career aggregate as 643-0….runs that is.
Like many others of his generation, Harold was robbed of his best years by the ambitious and blinkered crowned heads and statesmen of Europe. That quick fire hundred is a glimpse of what might have been. As it was, he was thirty three when Ireland's call came. This was against Scotland at Rathmines in June. Just weeks previously, however, he had again represented his province against a touring side, this time the West Indies, on their last tour before Test status was granted. This match was a closely fought and low scoring draw. Harold, at 4, made 23 in the first innings, Finlay, opening, making a half century.
Harold may have, in later years, been able to take some comfort in the fact that his innings was ended by a catch by Learie Constantine, regarded as one of the greatest fielders of the pre Jonty Rhodes generation. The bowler was Learie's uncle, veteran left armer Victor Pascall. Against Scotland, Harold's second innings was one of the reasons that Ireland was able to force a draw, following on after a brilliant innings by Scots opener John Kerr. In the second innings, Ireland were still behind when Harold came in at 170-4. He made 62* in two hours, adding 69 for the last wicket with fellow debutant Cecil Pemberton. This followed by some inspired Irish bowling meant that the Scots finished well short with six wickets down.
Harold was to play only one more match for Ireland. This writer has no wish to become involved in the debate over selection policies of the time, but it must be said that he probably deserved rather more caps. As it was, he failed in his final outing, against Wales at Ormeau the following summer. The visitors won by 10 wickets with Harold going for 3 and 0. Strangely, his captain William Pollock, consigned him to 8 in the first innings and 10 in the second, clearly no place for one of his talent. He continued to play senior cricket the end of the next decade, moving to NICC when the Ulster Club folded. He was an Irish selector in 1954, but had dropped out of public ken, by the time of his death in 1979. His brief obituary is in Wisden 1982.
Edward Liddle, August 2008, updated August 2012