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Biography
Terence Desmond McKibbin Kane
  • Born 10 February 1952, Londonderry
  • Died 19 October 2012 Jordanstown Co Antrim
  • Educated Belfast High School; Queen's University, Belfast
  • Occupation Civil Engineer then Insurance Broker
  • Debut 4 July 1981 v Middlesex at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 540
  • Style Right-hand bat, right arm fast medium
  • Teams Queen's University; Ballymena

Dessie Kane was a good right arm fast medium bowler and useful lower order batsman who, after some success with Queen's while studying Engineering there, became a stalwart and essential member of the member of the Ballymena attack. The historian of Ulster Cricket, Clarence Hiles, has described him as "One of the all-time greats of Ballymena cricket", while others speak of his utter dedication on the field of play and wholehearted friendliness off it.

A fine schoolboy cricketer at Belfast High School, though Paul Stirling must be unchallenged as BHS's best ever player of the game, Dessie had no trouble winning a place in the Queen's side and in 1973, besides some useful batting performances, shone with the ball being chosen for both the Irish Universities, in their annual match with the Leprechauns at College Park, and Ulster Town in the Guinness Cup interprovincial tournament. He was to play twice for the Universities XI though he took only one wicket. This was the prized one of former Ireland batsman Ken Hope in 1973, Ken being one of the most consistent run scorers in Leinster Cricket at the time, whom he yorked for 0 at the start of the Leprechauns innings.

Dessie played a prominent role for Queen's in their match against the mighty Waringstown at Downpatrick in the NCU Challenge Cup Final of 1973. The game was badly rain affected, taking five days to complete its two innings. Dessie helped to keep Queen's highly competitive until the final innings of the match. When the students batted first, they struggled to reach a vaguely respectable total of 126, this would have been much worse had not Dessie, coming in at 8, defied the Villagers powerful attack, while making the second top score of 33. He then helped restrict Waringstown to a 29 runs lead, taking 2-43 including the crucial wicket of Deryck Harrison for 69. Though Queen's batted better second time around, without Dessie contributing much, Waringstown broke the shackles and won by 7 wickets, Dessie having no success in the second innings.

HIs best season in the Cup was most certainly 1981, the year of his two Irish appearances. In the First Round, he and fellow paceman Neville Neill shot Laurelvale - who "fell like a pack of cards" according to Clarence Hiles - out for a mere 29, Neville had 5-11 and Dessie 5-15. Then came a local derby, second round match with Muckamore. Ballymena batted first and posted a useful 195. Dessie was then on top form taking 7-30 as the Moylena siders crumbled for 87. In the Quarter Final both he and Neill were on song bowling NICC out for 43, Dessie taking 5-14 and Neill 4-23. In the Semi Final win over Bangor it was Neill's turn to catch the eye with 6-31. However Dessie had 3-45 and another 9 wickets success was recorded. On to the Final against North Down at Downpatrick where North Down won by 38 runs but Dessie with 4-62 (Nos 1, 2, 4 and 5) and 2-49 completed a remarkable Cup season, which brought him 26 wickets at 8.64. The following year, incidentally, he shone as a batsman in an early round match with Muckamore making an undefeated 82.

His Guinness Cup performances might be described as useful and consistent, though he never ran through a side. He began for Ulster Town while a Queen's student. In his first match, against South Leinster at Cherryvale, he had 2-20, the wickets being those of Stephen Molins and the visitors' captain Ian Lewis, by no means a bad start to his representative career. He took 3 wickets in an innings on three occasions, twice, against Munster and once against the North West, taking 3-27. The North West match should be seen as the better analysis, accounting as he did for Ray Moan - a heavy scorer in the competition - Clive Nicholls and Roy McBrine.

However his best representative match came when he was one of three Northern players brought into the Leinster Cricket Union President's XI for its match against Canada in 1981. This tour was ruined by rain, the match in question being the only one of 5 to be played without any interruption. The LCU batted first but against accurate bowling struggled to 148-9 from 60 overs, Dessie having a DNB beside his name in the book. However he then produced an excellent spell of bowling to return figures of 11.5-4-25-5 and set up a memorable victory.

His two matches for Ireland, as a replacement for the unavailable John Elder, came in that same season, both 60 overs games against county opposition, the second a Nat West Trophy tie. In the first a friendly against Middlesex - with 8 Test players and led by Mike Brearley who was just days away from leading England in the epic Headingley Test of Botham and Willis fame - he bowled very well up to a point, taking 1-24 in his first 9 overs, the wicket being that former England player Clive Radley caught by Tommy Harpur. However, having suffered from a dropped catch - he was not alone in this - his last 3 went for 32, as he was required to bowl in the final overs.

However he did have the consolation of holding a brilliant catch at square leg to send back wicket keeper Paul Downton, who, with 37, had put Middlesex on the road to assured safety. The Gloucestershire match was a somewhat unhappy one for both Ireland and Dessie. Any Cup aspirations were speedily ended by the professionals; Dessie had 0-76 from his 12overs, though he again suffered from lack of support in the field with Alastair Hignell, England Rugby International and later commentator and courageous fighter against the ravages of MS, being put down at third man off a slashing square cut.

Thomas Desmond McKibbin Kane was probably unlucky to play his only two matches for Ireland against formidable opposition. He surely deserved at least one more chance to prove his worth. However on the cricket fields of Northern Ireland and elsewhere, he will long be remembered as, in the words of Clarence Hiles, "Combative and fiery in the heat of sporting battle but endearing and entertaining off it."

Edward Liddle, November 2012

International Matches
View Match Ireland lost to Middlesex by 112 runs (1 Day, Rathmines, 4 July 1981)
View Match Ireland lost to Gloucestershire by 171 runs (NatWest Trophy, Clontarf, 11 July 1981)