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Biography
Thomas Christopher Williams
  • Born 13 December 1908 Dublin
  • Died 14 August 1982 Milford House, Clonmel, Co Tipperary
  • Educated CBS Synge Street, Dublin
  • Occupation Employee of Bulmers Ltd
  • Debut 11 August 1937 v MCC at Lord's
  • Cap Number 410
  • Style Left hand bat; right arm leg breaks / medium pace
  • Teams Pembroke; Cahir Park

Tommy Williams, elder brother of fellow Pembroke and Ireland all rounder Michael, was a talented all round cricketer whose club form for Pembroke and - later - Cahir Park was such that many observers found it hard to believe that he failed almost totally for Ireland. That he had the ability to have reproduced the form which delighted the Sydney Parade faithful for so many years, and was still evident in the Munster Senior League as he approached his 50th year, is shown by his performance for The Leinster Cricket Union against almost the full Derbyshire side in College Park in 1946.

A sound upper order batsman and a bowler who usually bowled leg spin but could also use the new ball effectively, he made 216 appearances for Pembroke, scoring 4248 runs at 21.89 with two centuries, his highest score being 129. He captained the Club to win the Leinster Senior Cup in 1946 in a match in which Merrion were defeated by 137 runs in College Park. Tommy had a relatively quiet game but Michael topscored in the Pembroke innings to help post a formidable total. However Tommy had played a leading part in the Club's first Cup triumph in 1935 when Phoenix had been defeated by 3 wickets. Batting first the Northsiders were dismissed for 132 with Tommy 4-42 and Irish paceman Tom Ward, formerly of Armagh, 4-43. Then Jimmy Boucher bowled magnificently to take 6-51 but the total he was defending was too small even for him to win the match.

After leaving Pembroke and, for business reasons, settling in Clonmel, Tommy played for and captained Cahir Park, who played on the spacious ground of Lieutenant -Colonel Charteris' country estate. It was one of the largest grounds in Ireland . Cahir who had three fine bowlers in Tommy, Walter Nolan and, fresh from his English Public school Wrekin College in Shropshire, left armer Barclay Wilson, had a strong side which was a real force in the Irish Junior Cup, winning the Munster section four years in succession. Tommy, as captain, played a large part in their success, notably in 1955. Arriving at the Munster semi final stage, Cahir travelled to Mount Juliet to play on that attractive but - at least when this writer played there on a sub tropical September day over 40 years ago - wasp infested ground. Tommy led the way with the bat, falling just short of his half century, then saw Wilson and Nolan bowl the hosts out for 33. The visit must have been doubly worthwhile, incidentally, if the tea was of the same standard as the one I enjoyed there in 1969. It more than compensated for the wasps.

With Mount Juliet defeated Cahir took on Co Galway away in the Munster Final. The visitors batted first and posted a cup record - for them - 193. Tommy was in top form with the bat making 52. It was as well he did as another former Irish player of an even more distant vintage Sir Derek Kennedy, rolled back 30 years to take 7-92, though his pace was hardly what it had been when he took all 10 for Dublin University in a match on their English tour of 1924. Galway passed 80 with only 3 wickets down but then lost their way in face of some accurate bowling. They finished on 152. Man of the Match awards were then a thing of the future but Tommy, with 3-17 and four catches to add to his half century, would certainly have been a candidate! Cahir Park went on to enjoy a few successful seasons in the Munster League, owing much to Tommy. However the club was not to survive for long, loss of its ground, for non cricket reasons, leading to its demise. Those who wish to pursue that sorry tale are directed to Pat Bracken's excellent history of Tipperary cricket "Foreign and Fantastic Field Sports."

As mentioned above, Tommy hardly did himself justice when in an Irish jersey. Playing four matches between 1937 and 1939, he scored a mere 46 runs at 7.67 and took two wickets at 45.50. His only double figure score came in his final match against Scotland in 1939.

Scotland batted first and made 301 with James Macdonald (4-57) the best bowler. Tommy was restricted to 8.1 overs succeeding in removing the last man thanks to a smart catch by Frank Reddy. When Ireland batted they descended rapidly to 16-3, before Tommy joined Macdonald. Playing very cautiously they took the score to 63 before Tommy, though a practioner of the art himself, was undone by a googly from Walter Laidlaw. When Ireland batted again, he fell to the pace of WHR Dipple for 2. His only other wicket for Ireland had come in the MCC match the previous season when he had bowled future Cunard chairman JM - later Sir John - Brocklebank, another No 11 and, coincidentally, another leg spinner.

However it would be wrong to suggest that Tommy was unable to step up a level, as his performance for the LCU XI against Derbyshire side in College Park in May 1946 shows. The county batted first in a two dayer and posted 383, before bowling Leinster out for 181 of which Tommy, at 6, contributed 19. Though the visitors' strength lay in their vaunted seam attack, Tommy fell, surprisingly, to the occasional leg spin of Charlie Elliott, who - then one of the county's leading batsmen - was, of course, later to become a widely respected Test umpire. Tommy had been batting well and did so in the follow on as well. At 7 this time, he topscored with 30 before, yet again, failing to pick a googly and succumbing to Harold Pope, brother of Test paceman George. These performances are ample evidence, however, that Tommy had the ability and technique to succeed at a high level. His failures for Ireland should probably be seen as unfortunate occurrences rather than proof that he was not up to the challenge of international cricket.

Whatever opinions are held about that however there can be no doubt that for Pembroke and Cahir Park, Thomas Christopher Williams did more than enough to be long remembered in the annals of Leinster and Munster cricket.

Edward Liddle, May 2011

International Matches
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 drew with MCC (2 Day, College Park, 30 July 1938)
View Match Ireland lost to Scotland by 162 runs (3 Day, College Park, 24 June 1939)