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Biography
George Robert Lawrenson
  • Born circa 1835 Dublin
  • Died 4 May 1887 - 17 College Gardens, Brighton, Sussex
  • Educated Edinburgh University
  • Occupation Medical Student then surgeon in Royal Navy
  • Debut 3 September 1860 v All England XI at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 48
  • Style Right hand batsman
  • Teams Leinster

George Lawrenson, a useful batsman with Leinster CC, was one of the many Irish players of the time who, when selected for the national side, found the transition from club cricket to facing the formidable attack of the English professional XIs somewhat of a challenge.

George had few chances subsequently to improve his showing as his study of medicine at Edinburgh University was followed by a career as ship's surgeon in the Royal Navy which removed him from the Irish cricket scene.

His first recorded outing in major cricket came for Charles Lawrence's United Ireland XI against XXII of the North, played at Scarvey near Clones in September 1857.The wicket seems to have been somewhat rough and the Northerners, dismissed for 73 and 52 had little answer to the bowling of Lawrence and the Leinster professional Pat Smith.

The visitors also struggled in their first inning conceding a first innings lead of 21 but eventually went on to win by 5 wickets. George opened the batting in the both innings but was run out on each occasion. Whether he was partnered by a 19th Century version of "Sir Geoffrey" or was himself a poor caller, history does not relate.

In early October he appeared for XXII of Dublin against Lawrence's men and had the satisfaction of top scoring in the first innings. He did, however, make only 10, the sole double figure score as the XXII struggled to 69 all out, destroyed by Lawrence and underarmer Tom Quinn. However, it was clearly a match for "lobsters" as the prince of them all, Arthur Samuels then dismissed the United men for 21. The match eventually ended in a draw but not before George had gone for 1 in the second innings.

The following June saw the match played at Phoenix, George and Samuels now playing for the United XI, who won an easy victory, largely thanks to Samuels' bowling. George made little contribution to the win, making 0 and 1*.

Nevertheless when the mighty All England XI came to Palmerston in 1860, George was a member of the Irish XXII which took them on. Batting first the hosts were put out for 70, from 93 four ball overs. There were only two double figure scores, but George was not one of the run makers, being dismissed for a single. He, at least, had the consolation - if he ever thought about it in later years, of falling to two of the most famous names in cricket history, being caught behind by HH Stephenson - who a just over a year later would lead the first ever England side to tour Australia - off fastman Edgar Willsher- the leading bowler of the time and the man who forced the cricket world to accept overarm bowling.

Willsher took 10 wickets, his henchman of many matches Crispin Tinley who mixed slow lobs with fast roundarm took 9. Though they made only 135 the visitors had little trouble in winning by 7 wickets, George this time showed some class and resolution. Coming in at the fall 59 for 14 wickets, he was undefeated on 3 at the end. There was only one double figure score - 17 from No 20 Hugh Despard, in Ireland's 83.

Climatic conditions brought Ireland a draw at Coburg Gardens the following year. The hosts had no answer to the ferocious pace of John "Foghorn" Jackson as they collapsed for 46. Among the loud voiced fastman's victims was George, comprehensively bowled for 0. Most batsmen dismissed by "Foghorn" were only too glad to return to the sanctuary of the pavilion.

The All England men then made 109 and were heading for victory when the weather took over. George got to 1 this time before being caught off the visiting captain George Parr, master batsman and useful bowler, who disliked coming to Ireland as the very sight of the pier at Holyhead or Liverpool was said to make him seasick.

George Robert Lawrenson did not play for Ireland again for reasons already explained. He had been outclassed by the All Englanders, but so had many of his team-mates. He may well have played whilst a student in Scotland and later when on Naval duty.

I have been unable to find any details of such matches and would be most grateful for any information about them. Details of his Navy career are also scanty and again all information would be much appreciated. He appears to have been unmarried and had left the Service by the time of the 1881 Census. He was about 52 years of age when he died leaving 250, no mean sum in those days, in his Will.

Edward Liddle, February 2018

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