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Biography
Peter Mitchell Webb
  • Born 5 February 1932 St Stephen's Green, Dublin
  • Educated Avoca School, Dublin; Portora Royal School
  • Occupation Tobacco Company Executive
  • Debut 23 May 1953 v Glamorgan at Margam
  • Cap Number 458
  • Style Right hand batsman, right arm medium pace
  • Teams Dublin University, Pembroke

Peter Webb was a very accurate medium pacer who, for several years, was one of the best opening bowlers in Leinster cricket. If his selection for Ireland came as a surprise to some, it is also possible to suggest that he was unlucky to be dropped when he was, having bowled with sound line and length against a strong Lancashire batting line up. He was also, as befitted someone who had been at Avoca School, an excellent hockey player representing Dublin University and Three Rock Rovers.

Having been in the 1st XI at Portora, always a good cricket school, Peter was five years in the Dublin University XI from 1950 winning his colours each season. In his final two years, he shared the new ball with Alf Cooper, a very similar type of bowler. Together they opened the Irish attack against Lancashire at Ormeau in 1954. They also had the support of the redoubtable "Niki" Coker, a Nigerian medical student, who was a fine all rounder, swinging both bat and ball prodigiously. All three played a leading role in getting their side to the Leinster Cup Final in 1952, Coker then dominating the match with 85 runs and a five wicket haul. Peter himself had four "5 fors" for the University, including three in 1952. This was his best season. Also assisting Pembroke in his vacation he took 44 wickets at an average of just over 10, and won the O'Grady Cup for the leading bowler in Leinster senior cricket.

He was also able to, in the latter part of the season, help the Sydney Parade side to the Senior League title in 1954. They did the double that year, overwhelming Peter and his University team-mates in the Cup Final, even though the students totalled a very respectable 253. On leaving University, he played regularly for Pembroke taking 182 Cup and League wickets at 17.12. His bowling was a key factor, in their reaching the Cup Final in 1957. They recorded a huge 230 runs victory, though he made no significant contribution.

His performances in the 1952 season were responsible for his gaining selection for Ireland in 1953. His debut match, in which he shared a first appearance with NICC and North Down gloveman Eddie Marks, was a first class fixture v Glamorgan at Margam, at the end of May. This match, which ended in a draw with Ireland - having looked like winning- just holding out, is best remembered for two reasons. First the state of the wicket, which was unfit for first class or indeed any class- cricket. This was partly due to inadequate pre match covering after the first day had been rained off. "The saturated pitch proved a nightmare for batsmen,"(Wisden). Secondly it remains one of the very few first class matches to have been umpired by brothers. They were the Protheroe-Beynon's, one of whom - WEO or "Tim" - was to become a leading member of the "men in white coats" in Irish cricket. Wisden celebrated the brothers' feat by spelling their names incorrectly!

Bowling first change in Glamorgan's first innings of 81, Peter had figures of 6 -2 11-2, claiming the scalps of left hander WE Jones, a Glamorgan stalwart with over 13000 first class runs and two double centuries to his credit, and left handed all rounder Allan Watkins with 15 Test caps to his name. When Ireland were bundled out for 67, Peter, at 10, was bowled by the county captain Wilf Wooller, for one of the 10 ducks in the match. His bowling proved rather expensive in the second innings, 8.5 - 0 41 - 2, bowling fringe player Stan Montgomery for 17 and removing wicket keeper Haydn Davies, who had opened the second innings to force the pace, for 17 Needing 96, Ireland reached 55-1 but then collapsed to 78-9. This left Peter and his fellow seamer, Cambridge Blue Charles Kenny, an agonising two overs to survive. Though they were probably the two poorest batsmen in the match, they did so, with Peter scoring 3 and Charles 1. He retained his place for MCC match at Lord's in June. Ireland led on the first innings but eventually lost by 37 runs. Peter was wicketless but economical in the first innings (8 - 4 -5 - 0), but had 1-18 in the second, removing DE Blake, a good left hander who would have scored many more than his 2909 first class runs, had not dentistry reduced his major cricket to holiday matches. The Scots match at Ormeau which followed was ruined by rain, there being just time for Ireland to start a reply to the visitors 154. Peter again was accurate but lacked penetration, his figures being 13 - 9 - 7 - 0. It was a spinner's wicket, Jimmy Boucher and Jack Bowden bowling Scotland out.

Peter was selected for the Lancashire match at Ormeau, opening the attack with Alf Cooper. After bundling Ireland out for 67, with discarded Test left armer Malcolm Hilton taking five, Lancashire stormed past 300. Cyril Washbrook (61) and Winston Place (49) were a formidable pair to use the new ball against. They were followed to the wicket by Geoff Edrich (96). Geoff was a very good batsman, who lost little in comparison with his brother Bill. Probably his wartime sufferings, he was POW on the Burma Railway, made selectors doubt his fitness for he was as no worse than several who gained England caps in the lean post war years. One newspaper poured scorn on the University pairs efforts, describing their bowling as "puerile."

However catches were dropped and, though Alf had 1-70 in 15 overs taking the wicket of the Lancashire Secretary Geoffrey Howard, Peter's figures of 24 - 3 - 57 - 2, suggest that he was by no means collared. His two wickets were both Test players, even if Roy Tattersall and Brian Statham were better known for their efforts with the ball! Peter then became one of the few batting successes of the procession in the second innings. Hilton was again on song and Ireland collapsed to 71-9. Then Peter joined Jack Bowden, who did know a thing or two about slow left arm bowling and had little trouble. They took the score to 106, easily the best stand of the innings, before Peter eventually did fall to Hilton for 15. Perhaps he was able to console himself with the thought, that he had made 15 against him, whereas Bradman, facing Hilton in 1948, had made only 11, twice!

Two new opening bowlers in Jim Simpson of Lisburn and Joe Burke of Merrion appeared in the next match, and, though Cooper returned v MCC at the end of the season, replacing Simpson, Peter was never to play again.

He probably lacked a yard of pace to be really effective at international level, but Peter Michal Webb was surely unfortunate to be discarded after the Lancashire match, in which he had not been overwhelmed.

Over twenty years after his last match for Ireland, he was again of service to our cricket, when his firm, Rothmans, of which he was Managing Director (Ireland) sponsored the visits of the West Indies in 1976 and the Australians the following year. These were two highly enjoyable and successful occasions.

Edward Liddle, January 2009, updated October 2013

International Matches
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)