- Born 15 August 1905 Brooklands, USA
- Died 27 October 1945 Rochdale, Lancashire
- Educated Friends' School, Lisburn, Co Antrim
- Debut 9 June 1926 v Oxford University
- Cap Number 338
- Style Right hand bat, slow left arm.
- Teams Cliftonville; City of Derry
Robert Moore was a batting all rounder. Besides being a good upper order batsman, his slow left arm - orthodox - bowling was more than useful, often taking valuable wickets at club level. Unsurprisingly for one whose secondary education was received at Friends' School, he was also a fine hockey player, being a member of the Cliftonville side which won the Irish Senior and Anderson Cups in 1931 - 32. He had previously captained the side for two seasons 1928 - 30. Cricket was, however, always his major sport. A member of the Cliftonville XI for twelve years from 1922, he was captain in 1930, 1931, and again in 1933. He won both junior and senior interprovincial honours at this time, as well as three of his four Irish caps.
Cliftonville took two trophies when he was one of their prominent players, the NCU Senior Cup in 1922 and the League in 1926. He headed both sets of averages twice, with his best season being 1932, when he had 35.30 with the bat and 9.40 with the ball.
By 1934, however, he had moved North West and was to be found in the City of Derry ranks, where he and Donald Shearer made a formidable middle order. His best remembered innings for City, however, was achieved without Shearer spending much time at the other end, though he was captaining the side. This was the 1935 NWCU Cup Final v Sion Mills at Beechgrove. Both sides collapsed on the first day, so that when play resumed the following weekend, City, trailing by 8 runs needed a good total to ensure a contest. They lost early wickets after rain, before Robert came to the crease. Though favouring, as always, the back foot, he proceeded to reveal all his shots, destroying the Sion attack with a magnificent 121* in 75 minutes. Runs per ball were not then recorded but this must rank as one of the fastest hundreds in North West Cup history. Unfortunately, he played a lone hand. Despite his heroics, his team-mates put together only another 85 between them. Thus Sion finally emerged victorious by 1 wicket.
Two other innings may be noted, each featuring a partnership with Shearer. Shortly after the lost Final, City took on Killaloo in the League at Duncreggan. After three wickets had fallen, Robert joined Shearer in an unbroken stand of 199. "EDR" hit 102* in 75 minutes while Robert reached 101* in 67. City declared on 267/3 before bowling the opposition out for 169.
The following summer they were at it again. This time Sion were the recipients in a League match, having themselves, reached a commanding total, thanks to a typically stalwart 89 by Andy McFarlane and declared to set City 232 in 150 minutes. Shearer (118*) and Robert (86*) made light of the task. Their unbroken 3rd wicket stand of 209 producing "every stroke in the book", according to Billy Platt's Greatest Years in North West Cricket. Platt also records Shearer's, "driving being superb", and that Robert, "cut very neatly and crisply."
Robert's four Irish caps were spread over eight years, beginning at the University Parks, in a rain ruined draw against Oxford in 1926. Batting low in the order, at 8, he was caught off fellow slow left armer JWF Greenstock, who played for Worcestershire as well as the University, for 9. Rain prevented either side batting a second time. Robert did not get a chance to air his left arm spin, even though the University had lost only five wickets and were well past Ireland's score when the rain came.
He was also in the side for the matches against Wales and the MCC at Ormeau, though he was one of no fewer than seven substitutes on the latter occasion. The Welsh game was dominated by the Glamorgan amateur and opening bat, Norman Riches, who amassed 239* as his side totalled 455. Norman's score was to remain the highest made against Ireland until a certain Mr Hick strode to the wicket at the Harare Sports' Club almost sixty years later. Ireland saved the game at Ormeau, largely thanks to a classy debut 95 from James Macdonald and a fine all round performances from Noel Kelly. However Robert made a useful contribution also. Batting at 6, he scored 20 and 22; though it might be thought worthy of note that, though no mean practitioner of the art himself, he fell again to a slow left armer, Henry Symonds, in the second innings.
The MCC match was a two day one, with a very different Irish side from that which was to play the same opponents in the three day match in College Park. As already mentioned, Robert came in as a replacement. Batting second wicket down he made 25 and 8, though he is mainly remembered in this match, for a brilliant left handed catch to dispose of MCC all rounder Desmond Roberts, who seemed well set.
Though it appears that Robert's best years lay ahead of him, his Irish career seemed to be over. However in 1934, just as he was establishing himself in North West cricket, MCC came to Sion Mills to play Ireland, the first time the national side had played away from Dublin, Cork or Belfast. Again Robert came in as a replacement. He probably owed his selection to having become a local player. He was chosen to replace Tom Macdonald, thus finding himself in the unaccustomed position of opening bat, in partnership with debutant Sammy Edgar. For the latter it was a dream debut as he made a century (103). The opening stand seemed to be going well and 53 were on the board, when Robert was run out for 23.
This was unfortunate as the wicket held few terrors, the trade mark cuts were beginning to emerge and he seemed set for a big score. When MCC batted, following an Irish declaration, he took his only two wickets for Ireland. One was that of wicket keeper PG Upcher, otherwise unknown in representative cricket, the other that of an Army Major, Edwin Tremlett, later a General, who played a handful of first class matches without much success. In the second innings Robert was yorked by MCC paceman William Zambra as the visitors suddenly threatened au unlikely victory. In the end James Macdonald, Ham Lambert and rain meant that the draw, always the most likely result, came as the evening slipped away.
Though Robert's barnstorming innings for City described above was still to come, he was not to play for Ireland again. Probably, like McFarlane, he now suffered from the misguided opinion then evident in both Dublin and Belfast that North West cricket was not of a sufficiently high standard to justify its players being selected. At this distance we can only regret that the wonderful stoke play which cheered City supporters and routed the formidable Sion Mills attack, was not seem to full advantage in Irish colours.
Edward Liddle, November 2008