- Born 10 September 1904 Clondalkin Co Dublin
- Died 15 September 1983 Dublin
- Debut 17 July 1930 v Sir Julien Cahn's XI at College Park
- Cap Number 369
- Style Right hand batsman
- Teams Pembroke
William Aylward was the third of four children and the elder of two sons of William (senior) a law clerk who hailed from an old Co Carlow family and Lucy Aylward. Usually opening the batting - and sometimes joined in the side by his younger brother Benjamin a medium pacer, he was a consistent though not heavy run getter. Thus against Dublin University in College Park in June 1924, he put on over 100 for the first wicket with TP McCarthy before being bowled by Derrick Kennedy for 51. Thereafter, though McCarthy made 80, the batting, often interrupted by rain, fell away to Kennedy and his fellow Irish paceman Charles McCausland. The second day of this two day match was washed out, the University not batting. The following year Pembroke found themselves needing 85 to win but soon faltered losing quick wickets to the medium pace of WJA "Bury "McMahon, later to have a distinguished career in the RAMC. However William stood firm. Though he was out just before the end, his 43 ensured that there would be no surprise defeat. Against Railway Union in 1929 he and Louis McMullen put on an unbroken 228 for the first wicket, then a record in Leinster senior cricket. McMullen, who was sometimes seen as a rather lucky, defensive player, belies his reputation in reaching 112, while William made exactly 100 before the declaration came.
His sole appearance for Ireland came, as one of seven replacements, against Sir Julien Cahn's XI in College Park in July 1930. This was the first of two matches that the millionaire furniture magnate's XI of gilded amateurs and hired guns played in Ireland that summer, the other being at Ormeau against a somewhat different Irish side. The wicket was rain affected and Cahn's side struggled against the wiles of Jimmy Boucher. The off spinner took 7-72 one of them - that of future England captain and Chairman of Selectors Walter Robins - courtesy of a smart catch by William. The visitors were put out for 171 but Ireland struggled in reply against the leg breaks and googlies of Robins and Tom Richmond of Nottinghamshire - now one of Cahn's troop - who had played one Test Match for England in the disastrous Ashes series of 1921 . William, opening, went early bemused by a Richmond googly for 4. All out for 107, Ireland again bowled well but were set 222 to win. Though the batting improved on the first innings with George McVeagh batting brilliantly, they were again undone by Robins who had 11 wickets in the match. William was once more first to go. Having got a start he had reached a troubled 14 when he was bowled by medium pacer George Heane who, an amateur, made two overseas tours with Cahn's side and captained Nottinghamshire from 1935 - 46. A bizarre footnote to this match came in 1958. Robins, long retired from first class cricket but still a formidable opponent, brought an MCC side to Dublin to mark the centenary of the fixture at Lord's in 1858 (Ireland won). He said that he was very pleased to play in Dublin as he had never been there before!
William Francis Aylward never played for Ireland again. The weight of his runs at competitive level suggest hat he might have been worth at least one more chance.
William contributed a long article of recollections to the Pembroke Centenary History in 1968. It is an extremely valuable source for anyone studying Pembroke and other cricketers of his- and later eras - and this writer is much indebted to it. NB It will be clear from the above that some information about William Aylward's life outside cricket is missing. We would very much like to hear from anyone who can provide details of his education, occupation or any other relevant information.
Edward Liddle, February 2011, Updated August 2011