- Born 9 February 1915 Dublin
- Died 16 November 1991 Dublin
- Educated Sandford Park School, Dublin; Dublin University
- Occupation Managing Director Animal Foods Company
- Debut 19 June 1937 v Scotland at Ormeau
- Cap Number 408
- Style Right-hand bat; right arm medium pace.
- Teams Dublin University
Billy Mellon was a thoroughly good all round cricketer. Had he not spent most his Dublin University career in the - ample - shadow of Bobby Barnes, his stock might have stood even higher. As it was, having developed his cricketing skills at Sandford Park School, he entered Dublin University in June 1932 and was a regular member of the XI from the following season until 1938.
In all matches for the University, which he captained in 1936, he scored 1861 runs at 21.14, heading the batting in 1934, though his best season was his last when he scored 411 runs at 45.66, including a magnificent double hundred in the Leinster Senior Cup against Pembroke, which is described in more detail below. As a bowler his medium pacers accounted for 149 batsmen at 13.46. These figures made him the most statistically successful bowler of his time, finishing second in the averages every season between 1934 and 1937.
In competitive - League and Cup - matches Billy achieved the career double - rare in University cricket with its short seasons and careers - scoring 1100 runs at 22.00 and taking 110 wickets at 13.61. Besides the double hundred, he hit four 50s, while his haul of wickets included five "5 fors." He passed 300 runs and 20 wickets in the 1938 season. This comparatively rare feat for a University player was repeated by his nephew George in 1975.
Billy's best known innings came in the second round of the Cup against Pembroke in College Park in 1938, when he hit an undefeated 203 in 5 hours 10 minutes including 23 fours. Together with the left handed Barnes he put on any wicket Cup record of 227 for the third, before the Armagh man was out for 130. The hosts were able to declare at 418-6, a luxury in play to a finish cricket, and a still standing club record for competitive matches. Billy again topscored in the Final against Phoenix at Rathmines. However he was restricted to 40 and his team to 225. They then ran into a former University captain, the mercurial George McVeagh in top form, and, despite some excellent medium pace bowling from Stewart Redpath - later to be Rector of a Church of Ireland parish adjoining Barnes - lost by two wickets.
Billy was first selected by Ireland for the Scotland match of 1937. As can be seen from the foregoing, this selection was well deserved but he never quite justified himself over that or the following season. In his eight matches he scored only 135 runs at 11.25 and took 4 wickets at 26.00. In his defence it must be said that he was always low in the order, at 8 or 9, and that his three best scores saw him answer the call for quick runs. This suited his style, but, had he been placed higher in the order, he might well have been able to show more of his ability. The same might be said of his bowling. His position in the bating order might suggest that he was chosen as a bowler, but with Charlie Billingsley and Henry Morgan to use the new ball followed by the formidable spin trio of Eddie Ingram, James Macdonald and the redoubtable Jimmy Boucher, nobody else - including Billy - got much of a look in.
His best match a batsman was his first. Winning the toss and batting against the Scots at Ormeau, Ireland were soon in trouble and six wickets had fallen for 137 when Billy joined Ham Lambert. He proceeded to "play exceedingly well" (Derek Scott). He made 30 out of a partnership of 61, before falling to the visitor's most successful bowler slow left armer James Melville. The stand enabled Ireland to post a useful 227, Lambert topscoring with 61*.They never looked back and, thanks to some typically match winning off spin from "JCB" in the Scots second innings won by 63 runs. Billy could well have reflected on the importance of his partnership.
His two other scores of over 20 were both made against fairly formidable opposition in the shape of Sir Julien Cahn's XI. The higher innings was at Rathmines in 1938 when, thanks to a fine hundred by Lambert, and top class spin bowling from Ingram and Boucher, Ireland, led in this match by James Macdonald, won by an innings. Batting at 9, Billy came in after Ham was dismissed and with wicket keeper Charles Cuffe, another former Dublin University captain, added 51 in 27 minutes, before he was out on the stroke of close of play. He actually had a bowl in this match, taking the wicket of itinerant New South Wales all rounder Harold Mudge in the second innings. Mudge, who played 14 first class matches for his state and was now one of Cahn's troup of professionals, was one of only two double figure makers in this innings, so Billy's wicket was a useful one.
In the previous match, a rain affected draw with MCC in College Park, he had taken 2-30 in the visitors' only innings removing former Oxford opener David Walker, a stylish bat who was captaining the side, and middle order batsman, William Reginald Hamborough Joynson, who had more Christian names than first class appearances to his credit. Walker was to be killed in an air raid over Trondheim in Norway in 1942. However Billy's most famous victim came in his very last match for Ireland v the Australians in College Park at the end of the season. Though without Bradman, injured in the Final Test at The Oval while reduced to bowling as England piled up 903-7 declared (Hutton 364, Leyland 187, Hardstaff 169 - those were the days!), the visitors were far too much for Ireland in both Belfast and Dublin. However Billy did trap Sidney Barnes leg before.
Barnes had missed most of the tour due to injury but was be one of the mainstays of "The Invincibles" ten years later with scant respect for bowlers and authority. In this match he was batting at 10, as Stan McCabe, captaining the side in "The Don's" absence juggled his order, but Barnes had still smashed his way to 53, with one 6 and eight 4s, before Billy got him. Barnes later suggested- in his controversial autobiography "It Isn't Cricket", that he was hardly ever really out leg before. Be that as it may the wicket of Sidney George Barnes was no bad way for Charles William Mellon to ring down the curtain on his career in international - and indeed almost all - serious cricket.
Edward Liddle, March 2010