- Born 6 August 1929 Ardglass, Co Down
- Died 10 December 2015, Bangor
- Educated Regent House School, Newtownards; Dublin University; Stranmillis College, Belfast.
- Occupation Schoolteacher; Primary School Headmaster
- Debut 30 June 1956 v Scotland at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh
- Cap Number 473
- Style Right hand bat; wicket keeper.
- Teams Woodvale, North Down, Waringstown
Walter Fawcett was a very good wicket keeper who might well have won considerably more than 12 caps for Ireland without in any way weakening the side. His cricket career developed at Regent House, where he had the testing, but undoubtedly satisfying, learning experience of keeping wicket to the left arm spin of his Headmaster, James Macdonald, who was probably the best pre war exponent of that art to play for Ireland. From school Walter went to Dublin University, but denizens of College Park had to await his appearances for Ireland to see him play serious cricket there. Instead he retained his connection with North Down, for whom he was, while still an undergraduate, to serve as joint Secretary.
Though he was a first team regular at The Green and highly thought of, he moved to Waringstown in 1953 and thus took part in their NCU Cup Finals of 1953 and 1955. Both these matches were lost somewhat heavily, but Walter, safe as ever behind the stumps, made two notable contributions with the bat. In 1953 Downpatrick were victorious by 7 wickets, having built a big lead of 71. The Villagers, rather inadequate, 197, would have been considerably less had Walter not shown his talent with the bat, making the second top score of 54. Two years later, Lisburn won by an innings with Jack Bowden having match figures of 10-64. Waringstown avoided total humiliation thanks to Walter's second innings 44. This time he was top scorer. In fact, though the national selectors appear to have thought otherwise Walter was a good batsman at club level.
Two other notable innings played in the tensions of Cup cricket may be mentioned here. In a first round match against Queen's in 1953, he dominated the students' attack, which included Frank Fee, making a superb 86 and sharing in a century partnership with veteran batsman Willie Irwin, who, with a typically stylish, 52 exceeded his age by one run. They enabled the Villagers to post a challenging 285 which, despite a fine innings from Jimmy McKelvey, Queen's fell short of by 152 runs. En route for the Final in 1955 Waringstown bowled Holywood out for 81 in the second round. However the seasiders' bowling proved very testing and they went down by only 4 wickets. Waringstown owed much to Walter whose atting was faultless and imperious in difficult conditions, as he compiled an unbeaten 44.
Walter played 12 matches for Ireland between 1956 and 1959, catching 12 batsmen and stumping 6. He was less impressive with the bat, managing just 87 runs at 6.21. His highest score was 21 made on debut v Scotland in 1956. That match was a "bore draw" with the wicket too good, and the bowling on both sides somewhat weak. Only 21 wickets fell over the 3 days, but Walter made an imprint on the match by catching both the Scottish openers: Ronnie Chisholm, that perennial thorn in Ireland's flesh, was well caught low down off an authentic leg glance for 19, while Falkirk and Forfar footballer Len Dudman, closing in on three figures, got a faint edge to an attempted pull for Walter to hold another good catch.
In fact he made a habit of keeping well against Scotland. In 1958 at Cambusdoon, Ayr, in a match where, typical of a dreadful summer, barely two days play was possible, he helped Ireland to a first innings lead with three dismissals off Scott Huey. Was schoolboy practice to MacDonald a contributory factor? He caught Chisholm and then made two quick stumpings as Huey's guile drew unwary batsmen forward. They were an interesting duo. First to go was Oxford Blue, all rounder Jimmy Allan then of Kent and later of Warwickshire. He knew a bit about slow left arm bowling himself, having begun his first class career win 1953 with figures of 10 - 10 - 0 - 3, the three being Vic Wilson of Yorkshire and the Australians Keith Miller and Ian Craig. Walter's other stumping claimed his fellow keeper Ken Scotland, better known for his heroics on the rugby field for Scotland, the Lions, and, briefly, Ballymena.
When Walter had been originally been selected in 1956, he had replaced another former North Down man in Eddie Marks, by then with NICC. Eddie was a good wicket keeper, but a better batsman. His failure to score runs had led to his being replaced by Walter, seemingly in the eyes of the selectors a wicket keeper first and foremost. The selectors had briefly gone for Marks again at the outset of the 1957 season, but when he returned a batting average and highest score even lower than Walter's, the Waringstown man was recalled.
However in the middle of the 1959 season, though no complaints had been made about his glovework, Walter was again dropped. This time his replacement was a batsman of avowedly even less skill than Walter. The new man's initial outings behind the stumps were heavily criticised, and many expected Walter to return. He never did for the unfancied new boy was one Oswald Colhoun!
When Walter retired from playing the game, he took up umpiring and had charge of some of the matches in the 1999, European U 19 Championship which was held in the NCU area. In his younger days Walter was also a fine hockey player, being a key member of North Down for a number of years. In his profession he was successful and highly respected, becoming the Headmaster of Bangor Central Primary School.
This writer has two personal memories of Walter, apart from a remaining vision of a highly capable gloveman, this obvious even to schoolboy eyes. In, I think, the MCC match in College Park in 1956, while Ireland were batting, I - a twelve year old - espied Walter and two other players, who shall remain nameless, walking round the ground. Autograph book in hand I approached them. "May I have your autographs, please?" Walter's team-mates seemed none too keen, but he took my book. Glued into it were letters and autographs I had solicited by post from two of cricket's knights, Don Bradman and Jack Hobbs. "This is no ordinary schoolboy, * said Walter, "Don Bradman and Jack Hobbs. Come on you're both going to sign this one." And all three did. The book is a few feet away from me as I write even if Walter and company's signatures have rather faded over the intervening half century!
My other persona; recollection of him has nothing to do with cricket. In Bangor, where I lived for some of my formative years, there was - and maybe still is - a flourishing Operatic Society, who used to stage a pantomime or Victorian melodrama every year. Whether as the Demon King or villainously seductive squire, Walter bestrode the stage, cutting a splendid figure.
As wicket keeper, umpire, Headmaster, hockey player or evil squire, George Walter Fawcett contributed greatly to the walks of life in which he found himself. In retirement Walter continued to enjoy watching cricket from the boundary often at The Green, Comber
Edward Liddle, March 2009, updated 10 December 2015