- Born 10 April 1943 Blackrock, Co Dublin
- Educated Mountjoy School, Dublin; Dublin University
- Occupation Teacher
- Debut 4 September 1965 v Hampshire at Castle Avenue
- Cap Number 503
- Style Right-hand bat, right-arm fast medium
- Teams Clontarf, Dublin University, Malahide
Podge Hughes - in Irish cricket circles he has never been known by his given names - was a very good fast medium bowler, capable of bowling really hostile spells which touched on genuine pace. His performances in Leinster competitive cricket and for North Leinster in Interprovincial matches show his undoubted class, so that his comparative failure when playing for Ireland must remain something of a mystery. It should, however be remembered, that being a contemporary of the O'Riordan, Goodwin and Torrens triumvirate, his opportunities were somewhat limited.
He was also, in the lower middle order a much better batsman than he was often given credit for and, in his younger days, a quick moving and brilliant outfield. To the end of his career he remained a very safe fielder.
He made his reputation as a schoolboy cricketer at Mountjoy School in Dublin's northern suburbs, playing for both Leinster and Irish Schools, though the latter side had then only an annual fixture with the Leprechauns. He also embarked senior career that was to span 30 years, making his Clontarf debut in 1959. In all he was to play for three clubs, sometimes, it is alleged, confusing selectors as to which team he was actually turning out for at the start of a season. In all he played 478 matches, taking 886 wickets at 14.45 with 43 "5 fors." His 49 wickets at just over 7 apiece in 1963 won him the O'Grady Cup for the best average in Leinster cricket, 30 of these wickets were taken for Dublin University in their brief season at 7.70. This haul included three "5 fors."
As scorer for the University that season, I saw every one of those wickets, but what remains sharply in my mind is a "friendly" match in which one savagely hostile spell failed to bring him a wicket, though he deserved six or seven. This was in the annual "Trinity Week" Match in which the University then faced a side - of near international strength - raised by the legendary Jimmy Boucher. How Podge, who morally bowled the batsmen at least twice an over failed to take a wicket is still a puzzle to me. For a reason I cannot now recall, I umpired rather than scored for the afternoon session and so had the best possible view of a remarkable spell, one of the unluckiest I have seen in almost six decades of cricket watching.
At representative level, Podge was in the North Leinster side for their first ever Guinness Cup Match against North West at Fox Lodge. Showing his usual hostile accuracy, Podge returned figures of 17.1-4-32-3, to help Dougie Goodwin (4-44) dismiss the hosts for 128. However the visitors batting then crumbled before Scott Huey. Podge's best seasons in the Cup were 1968 and 1969, when he formed a formidable pace attack with Goodwin and Alec O'Riordan. Thus in the former year, against Ulster Town he had the remarkable analysis of 17.1-7-25-7, the top three in the order Charlie Corry, Sonny Hool and Jimmy McKelvey, besides removing that very useful middle order man Mike Crooks. Clearly Podge fancied his chances against he medical profession! He was thus mainly instrumental in the visitors' narrow victory as Town managed only 93 in response to a meagre 109. Later in the summer he had 6-40 against Ulster Country at Cabra, a remarkable bag of Con McCall, Mike Reith, Alfie Linehan, Jimmy Harrison and Archie McQuilken. A 71 runs victory resulted. He repeated the 6-40 against the same opposition the following year, this time getting Alfie again and also sending back Ivan Anderson, Dermot Monteith and Deryck Harrison.
In all he took 56 interprovincial wickets at 13.07 in 25 matches. Yet, as mentioned above he never touched this form or consistency for Ireland, even though his first wicket was that of the brilliant West Indian Roy Marshall when Hampshire came to College Park in 1965, O'Riordan helping him send back the Bajan with a sharp catch at leg slip.
Arguably Podge's best match for Ireland was in the loss to Scotland in 1969 at Castle Avenue. He took 3-77, his wickets being the top three in the order, including the veteran opener RHE Chisholm, so often a heavy scorer in these matches . Then he made a useful 35, putting on 62 with Pat Dineen, and helping Ireland recover from a poor start but was unable to prevent a lower order collapse as the last four wickets fell without a run being added to the score. He also made 35 in the famous match against Sussex at Pagham in 1977, on the occasion of Ireland's first victory against a county side. His score, made in the first innings, held the tail together enabling Ireland to reach 258, restricting the hosts to a two run lead. His second innings 11* was also important, seeing Ireland home by 3 wickets in a hectic run chase.
He also appeared for Ireland in two non cap matches, 40 over games against the International Cavaliers, a star studded side. In those days the ICU did not award caps for one day matches. Podge shone in the first game at Ormeau, taking 4-49 in 8.5 overs, including the wicket of master wicket keeper and - on his day - fine attacking batsman Godfrey Evans. Podge then came in at No 5 making a hard hit 26 before Evans stumped him off the off spin of Pakistani Saeed Ahmed, better known as a batsman with 2991 Test runs to his credit. Podge had some revenge the following day at Sydney Parade removing Saeed quickly, but himself was out for a duck, though, ct RB Simpson b ER Dexter, he departed in an illustrious fashion.
Away from cricket Lewis Patrick Hughes was a highly valued and much respected teacher of Mathematics at Dublin's Mount Temple School which developed from his alma mater Mountjoy. As a cricketer, Podge was also highly valued and much respected. His feats for his three clubs and for North Leinster are more than enough to outweigh his slightly less impressive figures for Ireland.
Edward Liddle, September 2009