- Born 13 July 1958, Dublin
- Educated Belvedere College, Dublin
- Occupation Insurance Executive
- Debut 11 June 1968 v MCC at The Meadow, Downpatrick
- Cap Number 559
- Style Right hand bat, right arm fast medium
- Teams Old Belvedere, Limerick
John McDevitt was a good fast medium bowler, arguably the best in Munster cricket for some ten years from the mid 1980s, and a more than useful lower order batsman. Educated at that fine cricket nursery Belvedere College, alma mater of - to name but three - Jimmy Boucher, Eddie Ingram and Alec O'Riordan, John was first seen on a wider stage when he represented the Irish Schools XI against their Welsh counterparts in 1975 and 1976. In the former year, playing at Sophia Gardens he had 3-49 in the Welsh first innings after the hosts had won the toss, ably supporting Brian Johnston of Regent House, Newtownards, who took 7 wickets. John's victims included Andy Puddle, later to play with some distinction for Wales Minor Counties. However Wales gained a 44 run lead, and though John again removed Puddle, this time caught behind for a duck, were able to set Ireland 205 to win. They finished 30 runs short with 4 wickets standing. John who had made only 2 in his first knock, was not called upon to bat.
The following year's match at Sydney Parade was also left drawn, with John playing a major role in Ireland avoiding defeat. Despite some good bowling from John's new ball partner, Jim Patterson, in the first innings Wales totalled 200, which, after they had dismissed Ireland for 80, enabled them to enforce the follow on. John, whose 17 in the first innings had been the second top score, was, with a sound 21, one of several batsmen to lend valuable support to left handed opener Neil Taylor who batted for almost four hours for a priceless 70. The visitors needed 117 in 72 minutes but called off the chase after John had reduced them to 33-4. He bowled unchanged to finish with the laudable figures of 12-6-20-4.
Though John did enough for Old Belvedere to gain a place in the North Leinster Guinness Cup side in 1981, it was not until his move to Limerick for reasons outside cricket, that he came to full prominence. For some ten seasons from 1984, Limerick were probably the strongest side in Munster cricket. They carried off the Senior Cup on four occasions and were defeated finalists on a fifth. They also won five Senior League titles and had the runners' up spot once. Irish Cricket Magazine's comment on the Club's 1984 100% record League win, "The fast bowling of John McDevitt was the decisive factor" could equally well have applied to the other successes; for example. in 1992, he took 27 wickets at 8.26 with a best bowling of 6-22, while in 1994 he had 23 at 7.17. Seasons when his side did not carry off the silverware were also successful. In 1991, for instance, he had 26 at 12.25, with best figures of 9-25.
As stated above John's interprovincial debut was for North Leinster in 1981. However it was for Munster, from 1985 to 1993, that he proved a force really to be reckoned with. He raised his tally of wickets to 58 at 29.51, among the best figures for a Munster bowler in the competition, narrowly shading left arm quick John Power, with whom he shared the new ball for five seasons. HIs best bowling came against Ulster Country at Coleraine in 1992. Munster posted a useful 189, to which John contributed 13. He then had figures of 15-6-32-5, his haul including Neil Doak, Shane Harrison and Paul Linehan. UC had Garfield Harrison (71*) to thank for a three wicket victory.
Against the same opponents two years earlier John had taken a leading role in ensuring Munster managed to draw a match in which they faced a formidable total of 269-4. He took all the wickets that fell at a cost of 65, then, coming in at 9 made his highest interprovincial score hitting 35, before Noel nelson bowled him. The previous summer against North Leinster at Castle Avenue, he had again been in all round form. His 18 at No 8, enabled the visitors to reach 182. He then took 4-49, including potential danger men Mark Nulty and Rodney Molins, to earn his side a six run victory.
His debut for Ireland came against MCC at Lord's in late August 1985. The match ended in a tense draw, with MCC, needing 246 for victory on 245-8, Ireland, for whom Alf Masood hit a superb 138, being thwarted by former Test player Jackie Birkenshaw. Opening the bowling with Hugh Milling, John went wicketless in the first innings, but had one scalp in the second, when he clean bowled former England opener Brian Bolus for 12.
This was enough to see him in the touring party to Zimbabwe early the following year. He played in two cap matches and also in the one day game against Zimbabwe Schools. Ireland began their tour with two wins, John taking part in the second against Matabeleland Country Districts, again opening the attack with Milling. Though wicketless in the first innings, he had 2-19 in the second, including top scorer Radloff, thus helping fellow pacemen Milling and Jim Patterson set up a ten wicket victory. He also played in the one day limited overs match with a strong Mashonaland Country Districts XI. Ireland lost by 85 runs, but John produced one of the few bright sparks in the Irish performance, His figures of 12-5-51-5 made him the first Irish bowler to take a "5 for" in a limited overs match. Among those who succumbed to him was future Zimbabwe Test player Ian Butchart, top scorer with 84. John did not play in the last two matches of the tour. This was, perhaps, just as well as the games marked the first meeting of an Irish side with one GA Hick who greeted them with scores of 155 and 310.
John was not to play for Ireland again. We may, however, note one more match, This was an end of season game in September 1994 for Cork County against Essex, though the county also had some guest players. Essex won the toss and batted and John soon removed both the openers. First to go was John Stephenson, England "one cap wonder" - he was later to found the "One Cap Wonders Club" and the other a tall and powerfully built man, instantly recognisable from his raised bat stance and his Zapata like moustache. The scorecard read GA Gooch bowled McDevitt 12.
Edward Liddle, September 2011