- Born 21 July 1919 Dublin
- Died 28 October 1983 Dublin
- Educated Mountjoy School, Dublin
- Occupation ICI employee
- Debut 31 May 1947 v Scotland at The Mardyke
- Cap Number 427
- Style Right-hand bat; right arm medium pace.
- Teams YMCA.
Derry Gill was a good upper or middle order batsman who was also a useful medium pace bowler. This attribute found him pressed into service to use the new ball for Ireland, rather in the manner of the Indian seamers of the late 1960s and early 70s, to take the shine off for the spinners. He developed his cricket skills at Mountjoy School in North Dublin, now the site of Mount Temple Comprehensive and better known as the alma mater of such luminaries as Bono, rather than a seven times capped Irish cricketer. Mountjoy was, however, always a good cricket school, able to number pace bowlers Basil Ward and "Podge" Hughes among its alumni as well as Derry.
Derry played for YMCA from 1936 to 1963. While his bowling remained a valuable adjunct, his main contribution to the Claremont Road side, which he captained in 1945, was with the bat. Making 330 appearances in competitive senior cricket, he scored 6821 runs at 24.01. Perhaps surprisingly he never reached three figures, his highest score being 97*. He did however hit thirty eight 50s.
Derry's seven Irish caps were won between 1947 and 1951, beginning at The Mardyke and culminating at Lord's. With hindsight it is easy to suggest that he was rather strangely - or harshly - treated by captains and or selectors. As we have seen he was primarily a batsman, but, while he made a few entrances fourth wicket down, he was generally at 8 or 9 in the order. In Derek Scott's words, he was "too good a batsman," for these positions. Thus he rarely had the chance to show his true worth with the bat. Instead he seems to have been judged on his bowling, but here again the attitude shown to him was inconsistent. At times, for example in his debut match v Scotland in 1947, he was used as an opening bowler. At others he was second change and other occasions again, he did not bowl at all. Such treatment, added to an apparent lack of trust in his ability as a batsman, cannot have been over helpful to his confidence.
It is, thus, no surprise that he aggregated only 127 runs at 11.55. He did however manage three worthwhile innings, one, at least, of them match saving. This was his 1947 debut. Ireland set 219 to win in cold and wet conditions at The Mardyke were in trouble. Derry's 15 may not look much in the scorebook, but it delayed the visitors and was one of the innings which allowed Ireland's 9th wicket pair to hold out. The match was drawn as, indeed, were all seven games in which he played. Another useful innings came at Lord's in 1949 when a delayed declaration by Donald Shearer allowed MCC to escape defeat in a tense finish. As Ireland attempted to get quick runs in the second innings, Derry hit a breezy 25*, St John's Wood becoming Claremont Road for a moment in time. He must have pleased with the innings as he had been out for 0 to Northants left armer Vince Broderick in the first innings, no one likes to see their first match at Lord's marked by a duck.
Derry's best innings for his country was v Scotland at North Inch, Perth in 1950. This was yet another rain affected draw, marked by Jimmy Boucher routing the hosts for 58 in the first innings. That Ireland managed a first innings lead of 56 was largely due to Derry top scoring with 37, wasted at No 9. His only other double figure innings for Ireland was that same season v Nottinghamshire in College Park. He was bowled for 10 by Joe Hardstaff, renowned as an England batsman of quality with a Test average of 46.74, but with a career average of 39 as a bowler.
Derry's bowling only brought him 4-189, but, as we have seen, he was never consistently used. He was always accurate, never more so than on debut, when his first innings figures were 6 - 0 - 7 - 0. His most notable wicket was claimed in the Perth match of 1950, when he dismissed high scoring Church of Scotland minister Jimmy Aitchison, always a thorn in the flesh of Irish attacks. His best bowling figures were 2-19 v MCC at College Park in 1950, dismissing Oxford Blue CRD Rudd, a respectable, though not outstanding batsman and Rudd's fellow Oxonian, slow left armer JN Bartlett, who, unusually, won his Blues five years apart, due to, amongst other things, National Service. This match was marked by a nostalgic 92* from the great Wally Hammond, rolling back the years for one final time in his penultimate first class match.
Roderick Ian Gill continued to play for YMCA until 1963, his batting still a prominent force. His death, twenty years later, came after a long illness.
Edward Liddle, April 2009