- Born 11 December 1885 Birley, Herefordshire, England
- Died 5 February 1931 Carrigrohane, Co Cork
- Educated Hereford Cathedral School Birmingham University
- Occupation Brewer
- Debut 11 July 1925 v Scotland at College Park
- Cap Number 333
- Style Right-hand bat, right arm medium pace
- Teams Warwickshire, Cork County
Croose Parry was, according to Patrick Hone, "a really good batsman", who was also a very useful medium pacer at club level. Coming form a long established Hertfordshire family, he was in the XI at Hereford Cathedral School, before becoming prominent in club cricket in Warwickshire, while reading for his MSc at Birmingham University. He later played twice for the County in first class matches, as well as appearing for the Second XI in the Minor County Championship. Unfortunately, he was not seen to great advantage in these matches. His county debut was against Lancashire in 1908 at Edgbaston, then a rather bleak and desolate looking place at which to play cricket. Perhaps Croose was not inspired by the surroundings. At any rate, batting at 5 he made 10 and 6 in a match his side lost by 5 wickets. He fell to medium pacer come off spinner Bill Huddleston in the first innings and to the amateur paceman Walter Brearley in the second. Huddleston was a good and versatile bowler, who took 685 first class wickets in a 15 year career.
He was still playing in the Lancashire League in his 50s, taking 9-12 for Leigh v Wigan aged 52. Brearley was a bowler of considerable speed, another Lancashire player of this time about whom stories, possibly all invented by Neville Cardus, abound. Croose played again for the County v Northamptonshire two years later. He again reached 10 in his only innings, the third day of the game being lost to rain. He was bowled by George Thompson, the best bowler in a struggling side, who had a brief but successful Test career taking 23 wickets in six matches. Croose's one match for the Second XI of which a score has been seen was also in 1910. He made 26 v Worcestershire before being bowled by William Taylor, a fast medium bowler, who later captained Worcestershire, owing this appointment to amateur status and family connections rather than cricket ability.
In 1911 Croose took up an appointment with the well known Beamish Brewery in Cork, where, apart from distinguished war service, he was to remain until his premature death in 1931. His elegant batting style and useful bowling were soon seen to advantage on The Mardyke. His first major match was the annual game with Na Shuler in July. Croose failed with the bat in a single innings math but, together with veteran spinner Robert Pike, had bowled the Shulers out for 222, enough however to give the visitors a 58 run victory. Croose returned bowling figures of 19 - 1 - 74 - 6, while Pike had 4-40.
Croose's wickets included veteran batsman George Geen, who had been one of the successes of the Irish tour of North America 19 years earlier. The following season saw a two day match end in a 5 wicket win for the hosts with Croose playing a prominent part. Na Shuler made 155, with Pike obtaining a "5 for" and Croose and Northamptonshire pace bowler John Ryan one each. Then the hosts ran up 265, Croose top scoring with a fine 89, ably supported by local talent Willie Harman (73) as they put on a club record 173 for the first wicket. Ryan then bowled the Shulers out for 190 to leave 81 to win. Five wickets fell, but Croose, out just before the end for 45 ensured the victory.
During the War, he served with the Royal Artillery, reaching the rank of Major. The London Gazette of 9 January 1918 records the award of a Military Cross, "for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty." His battery was under heavy fire and suffered 50% casualties. The telephone pit was buried by shell fire which killed seven men, leaving the five survivors buried. Under heavy fire, Croose entered the gas filled pit and, digging the five men out, got them to safety. The citation concludes, "By his coolness under fire and devotion to duty, he set an example beyond all praise."
The Shuler matches ceased with the war, the two Dublin University matches, one in Cork the other in College Park, becoming perhaps the highlight of the season. Thus in 1919, in a close low scoring match at The Mardyke, Croose was the outstanding County player. Opening the batting after County had won the toss, he made 49 out of a paltry 95 all out, defying left arm paceman Basil Ward (7-37). Then as the visitors struggled to 128, he took 6-26 in 9.1 overs. Batting again the County collapsed once more, being out for 88. Croose with 25, was second top score to an Army import Private Bailey (28). Needing only 60, the visitors lost 9 wickets in getting them, Croose had 4-22 and Bailey 5-33. Only all rounder John Wills reached double figures. In 1926 the next of these matches he was able to play in, he played a major part in both games. In College Park he took 8-56 to bowl the strong hosts' batting line up out for 124, only George McVeagh (55) playing him well. County, however, fared even worse, being bowled out for 90 by Noel Kelly (7-35). Croose, an lbw victim, was one of his wickets, having failed to score. Eventually a generous declaration and a superb innings by Derrick Hall saw the visitors home by 67 wickets.
At The Mardyke the match was decided over a single innings though played over two days. Scoring was heavy and time was lost to rain. County led off with 446-5 declared a team record, while Croose established an individual one with 219. He put on 206 for the 5th wicket with Royal Navy officer HS Pugh. When Croose was finally caught by Tom Dixon off Achey Kelly, Sir George Colthurst declared, leaving Pugh stranded on 93*. Croose then had the County's best bowling figures 3-86 as the visitors totalled 395. They batted consistently, but owed much to a last wicket stand of 120 between wicket keeper Harry Forsyth, later a Belfast GP, and No 11, medium pacer Shaun Jeffares, a brilliant tennis player, but only, by his own admission, an average cricketer.
In the College Park match of 1928, Croose was again seen to good advantage, taking 8-43 as the hosts were bowled out for 164 in a drawn match. McVeagh again defied him with 85* as did the South African Pat Thornton who made 55 before Croose bowled him.
Croose also represented Munster in the somewhat spasmodic interprovincial series, then played over two days. Munster were usually heavily defeated but had a good season in 1925, drawing with Ulster and defeating Leinster. At The Mardyke, Ulster posted a formidable 286, but Croose batted brilliantly in reply making the formidable Northern attack look quite ordinary. He eventually made 95, Munster finishing with 231. A second innings run chase saw a collapse, but Hall played out time successfully. Against Leinster, a useful first innings lead of 46 was established, thanks to Croose top scoring with 72. This was a major contribution towards an eventual 7 wicket victory.
His Irish debut had come against Scotland in College Park in 1925. This match produced, according to Derek Scott, "the most enjoyable cricket seen in Dublin for many years." Croose was a major contributor both to the enjoyment and to Ireland's commanding 179 run victory. Batting at no 3, he hit a superb 124 in just under two hours, striking two 6s and eighteen 4s. Ireland reached 364 all out, scoring at 82 runs an hour. The highlight of the innings was a partnership 144 for the 4th wicket between Croose and the Phoenix and Middlesex all rounder EL Kidd (73). Croose was eventually out to the medium pace of Donald Weir. His second innings 39, as Ireland pushed for quick runs, was also acclaimed, but was again ended by medium pace, the bowler being the visitor's opening batsman William Walker.
Ireland followed this match with a short tour of Britain in August. Against MCC at Lord's, they were victorious by 110 runs. Again batting "first drop", Croose made 25 before being bowled by GHGM "Buns" Cartwright, an old Etonian pace bowler, whose long life would have made good copy for today's tabloid press. Croose added 69 for the second wicket with William Pollock. Moving on to Llandudno to play Wales, Ireland were soundly beaten succumbing by an innings and 36 runs. Croose did take two wickets, a good one in the hosts' captain, prolific Glamorgan opener Norman Riches (117) and that of opening bowler John Mercer who took 1591 first class wickets in his career, but averaged only 11 with the bat. In company with the rest of his team-mates, Croose did not find Llandudno's Oval, towered over by the spectacular Great Orme headland, much to his taste He made 17 in the first innings before falling to New Jersey born slow left armer Frank Ryan for 17. In the second innings he was bowled by medium pacer Ken Raikes for 3.
In keeping with Ireland's other debut centurions, Harry Mulholland, Sammy Edgar and John Gill, Croose was not to have a long and successful career in Irish colours. Mulholland and Gill each played only the one match, Edgar played two and died three years after his debut. Croose had thus already had a longer career but was approaching 40 years of age. He was to play once more, probably because of the location, v MCC at The Mardyke in 1930. Ireland were saved by the rain in this match, in which he did little to justify his recall, managing only 3 at No 5. He did dismiss South African all rounder Dennis Morkel for 3, thus finishing with career bowling figures of 3-89. With the bat he totalled 217 runs at 36.17. Matthew Croose Parry was still a comparatively young man at the time of his death. His name is now almost forgotten in Warwickshire and Ireland cricket circles. He deserves better.
Edward Liddle, April 2009