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Biography
James Chrystostom Boucher
  • Born 22 December 1910, Dublin
  • Died 25 December 1995, Fuengirola, Spain
  • Educated Belvedere College, Dublin
  • Occupation Clerk in State Electricity Company (ESB)
  • Debut 22 July 1929 against The Catamarans at College Park
  • Cap Number 364
  • Style Right-hand bat, right-arm off breaks
  • Teams Civil Service, Phoenix

Jimmy Boucher was, without doubt one of the greatest bowlers ever to play Ireland. Many shrewd judges of the game would not bother with the qualifying phrase! Thus long serving umpire, and world wide watcher of the first class game, the late "Tim" Portiere - Beynon commented, "At his peak Jimmy was one of the three top spin bowlers in the world...He would have played Test Cricket for any of the major cricketing countries." His Times obituary called him, "Probably the finest cricketer Ireland ever produced." For Derek Scott, long time ICU administrator and colleague, he was, "The best known, the most famous and most illustrious personality in the annals of Irish Cricket."

At school, where he and Eddie Ingram made a formidable combination, he benefited from the coaching of Leicestershire batsman Albert Knight and played his first senior match, for Civil Service, in 1924, aged 14. Red haired, he bowled his off spin at near medium pace, usually to three short legs, with a rather long, jinking run, his large fingers, enabling him to impart vicious spin to the ball, so that, on a helpful wicket, his long term Phoenix colleague DR Pigot (the first of the three to bear that name), was "unable to see any way in which a batsman might successfully defend his wicket." His main weapon, however was flight, which deceived many a batsman as to the length of the ball and made him a threat to the world's best, even on a plumb wicket. He was almost never collared in domestic cricket, and very rarely on the international stage. The exception was by the 1951 South Africans in College Park, when Roy McLean, "threw all ideas of correct play to the winds," according to Pat Hone, slogging Jimmy to square leg, hitting five 6s and fourteen 4s in 107. Even then, Boucher continued to attack.

He took 13 wickets for Civil Service at 10.69 from 9 matches before "moving up the road" to join Phoenix, typically his best performance had been against them, 4-27, having made 25, in 1927. Statistics cannot recall the majesty of his bowling but they do not lie as to its excellence. In all competitive cricket in Dublin, in a career, which lasted until 1964, he took 1303 wickets at 11.48. Only two others have passed 1000: Gerry Kirwan and Niall McConnell. His 124 "5 fors" are also a record with no other bowler getting close. The only figures that eluded him was an all 10, though he twice took 9 against Merrion. He began the 1943 season with 27 wickets for 72 in four matches, including a hat trick; he performed the latter feat on four other occasions. He took 50 or more in a season 7 times with 72 in 1942 his best. He won the O'Grady Cup, for Leinster's leading bowler 7 times and, showing that he was also a highly competent batsman, won the Samuels Cup for the leading all rounder on 5 occasions. Once describing himself as "the best number 8 in the world," he scored 7475 runs in Senior cricket at 20.64 with 4 hundreds. He was also a very safe slip. He captained Phoenix for 3 seasons and shared in 5 League and 8 Cup triumphs.

He began for Ireland against The Catarmarans, an Indian side including the young Nawab of Pataudi, later to play for England and India, besides being the only Bodyline tourist to stand up to Douglas Jardine. On debut Jimmy took 3-22 and 3-12 as he and Tom Dixon proved too much for the visitors. He never looked back on his way to 307 wickets. His performances for Ireland are the stuff of cricketing legend and a few must suffice here. He headed the English first class averages 3 times; his first class career average is better than Clay's, Verity's or Jim Laker's. He had 31 "5 fors" and 10 in a match 7 times. His most frequent successes were against Scotland and MCC, but India, New Zealand and South Africa were also made to suffer. Thus he took 6-30 v India in 1936, though VM Merchant saw India to victory. His 7-13 v New Zealand at Rathmines in 1937, was part of an extraordinary day's play' enough for an entire first class match to be finished. At Ormeau in 1947, he bowled Ireland to victory in a one-day match v South Africa with 7-37, reducing the great AD Nourse to shoulder shrugging admiration. He held 42 catches, mostly at slip. Only as Captain with one win in 9 matches was he not so successful.

He retired from all cricket in 1964, having been Hon Secretary of the ICU since 1954, a post he was to hold until 1973. He was a selector from 1963 to 1976. He also gave the first TV commentary from Dublin. Otherwise cricket remained his dominant interest, though golf and Old Belvedere RFC were also important. Unmarried, he never sought to leave the ESB to play county cricket. Thus it can never be known how far he could have gone. Most, who saw him, from all over the cricket world, would not dispute Protheroe - Beynon's verdict. He can be left with the words of the late Sean Pender, one of Ireland's best cricket journalists, "A legend in his own lifetime, his name and fame will live on in Irish sport for all time."

His obituary is in Wisden 1996 and he is profiled in Siggins and Fitzgerald Ireland's 100 Cricket Greats.

Edward Liddle, May 2007

International Matches
View Match Ireland beat the Cataramans by 76 runs (3 Day, College Park, 22 July 1929)
View Match MCC drew with Ireland (2 Day, Lord's, 19 August 1929)
View Match Civil Service Crusaders drew with Ireland (2 Day, Chiswick, 21 August 1929)
View Match Scotland beat Ireland by 10 wickets (3 Day, Aberdeen, 21 June 1930)
View Match Ireland lost to Sir Julien Cahn's XI by 51 runs (3 Day, College Park, 19 July 1930)
View Match Ireland beat Scotland by 72 runs (3 Day, College Park, 27 June 1931)
View Match MCC lost to Ireland by an innings and 44 runs (2 Day, Lord's, 22 July 1931)
View Match Scotland lost to Ireland by 58 runs (3 Day, Greenock, 18 June 1932)
View Match Ireland beat MCC by 149 runs (3 Day, College Park, 30 July 1932)
View Match Ireland beat Scotland by 23 runs (3 Day, Ormeau, 17 June 1933)
View Match MCC drew with Ireland (2 Day, Lord's, 16 August 1933)
View Match Ireland drew with MCC (3 Day, College Park, 4 August 1934)
View Match MCC lost to Ireland by 6 wickets (2 Day, Lord's, 19 August 1935)
View Match Scotland beat Ireland by 214 runs (3 Day, Edinburgh, 20 June 1936)
View Match Ireland lost to India by 10 wickets (3 Day, College Park, 9 July 1936)
View Match Ireland beat MCC by 285 runs (3 Day, Rathmines, 1 August 1936)
View Match Ireland beat Minor Counties by 99 runs (3 Day, Rathmines, 15 May 1937)
View Match Ireland beat Scotland by 63 runs (3 Day, Ormeau, 19 June 1937)
View Match Sir Julien Cahn's XI beat Ireland by 6 wickets (2 Day, Nottingham, 9 August 1937)
View Match MCC beat Ireland by 9 wickets (2 Day, Lord's, 11 August 1937)
View Match Sir Julian Cahn's XI drew with Ireland (2 Day, Loughborough, 13 August 1937)
View Match Ireland lost to New Zealand by 8 wickets (3 Day, Rathmines, 11 September 1937)
View Match Ireland lost to New Zealand by an innings and 52 runs (2 Day, Rathmines, 13 September 1937)
View Match Ireland beat Scotland by 109 runs (3 Day, Glasgow, 16 July 1938)
View Match Ireland drew with MCC (2 Day, College Park, 30 July 1938)
View Match Ireland beat Sir Julian Cahn's XI by an innings and 30 runs (2 Day, Rathmines, 5 August 1938)
View Match Ireland lost to Australia by an innings and 33 runs (2 Day, College Park, 16 September 1938)
View Match Ireland lost to Scotland by 162 runs (3 Day, College Park, 24 June 1939)
View Match Sir Julian Cahn's XI drew with Ireland (2 Day, Loughborough, 18 August 1939)
View Match Scotland lost to Ireland by 8 wickets (3 Day, Greenock, 13 July 1946)
View Match Ireland drew with Scotland (3 Day, Cork, 31 May 1947)
View Match Yorkshire beat Ireland by 121 runs (3 Day, Harrogate, 18 June 1947)
View Match Craven Gentlemen drew with Ireland (2 Day, Muirfield, 23 June 1947)
View Match Derbyshire beat Ireland by an innings and 8 runs (3 Day, Buxton, 25 June 1947)
View Match Ireland drew with South Africa (2 Day, College Park, 10 July 1947)
View Match Ireland lost to South Africa by an innings and 125 runs (2 Day, Ormeau, 12 July 1947)
View Match Ireland beat South Africa by 6 wickets (1 Day, Ormeau, 14 July 1947)
View Match MCC lost to Ireland by 7 wickets (2 Day, Lord's, 20 August 1947)
View Match Ireland drew with Yorkshire (2 Day, Ormeau, 16 June 1948)
View Match Scotland lost to Ireland by 118 runs (3 Day, Glasgow, 24 July 1948)
View Match Ireland drew with MCC (3 Day, Rathmines, 21 August 1948)
View Match Ireland lost to Yorkshire by 162 runs (2 Day, Ormeau, 6 July 1949)
View Match Ireland beat Scotland by 73 runs (3 Day, Ormeau, 23 July 1949)
View Match MCC drew with Ireland (2 Day, Lord's, 17 August 1949)
View Match Scotland drew with Ireland (3 Day, Perth, 24-27 June 1950)
View Match Ireland drew with Nottinghamshire (2 Day, College Park, 20-21 July 1950)
View Match Ireland drew with MCC (3 Day, College Park, 2-5 September 1950)
View Match Scotland beat Ireland by 3 wickets (3 Day, College Park, 23-26 June 1951)
View Match Ireland lost to South Africa by 8 wickets (2 Day, Ormeau, 13-14 July 1951)
View Match Ireland lost to South Africa by an innings and 72 runs (2 Day, College Park, 16-17 July 1951)
View Match MCC drew with Ireland (2 Day, Lord's, 29-30 August 1951)
View Match Ireland lost to India by an innings and 9 runs (2 Day, College Park, 13-14 June 1952)
View Match Ireland drew with India (2 Day, Ormeau, 16-17 June 1952)
View Match Scotland beat Ireland by an innings and 18 runs (3 Day, Paisley, 5-8 July 1952)
View Match Ireland drew with MCC (3 Day, College Park, 6-9 September 1952)
View Match Glamorgan drew with Ireland (3 Day, Margam, 23-26 May 1953)
View Match MCC beat Ireland by 37 runs (2 Day, Lord's, 20-21 June 1953)
View Match Ireland drew with Scotland (3 Day, Ormeau, 11-14 July 1953)
View Match Ireland lost to Lancashire by an innings and 178 runs (2 Day, Ormeau, 26-27 May 1954)
View Match Scotland drew with Ireland (3 Day, Paisley, 17-20 July 1954)
Articles
Jimmy Boucher 1929-1954
Just a handful of cricketers produced in this country could have played the game at Test level; Jimmy Boucher, who died aged 85 on Christmas Day 1995, was one of them.