- Born 11 January 1964, Belfast
- Educated Lurgan Boys' Junior High School, Lurgan College
- Occupation Regional Director (Ireland) Alpha Flight Ltd
- Debut 22 June 1988 v Gloucestershire at Bristol
- Cap Number 566
- Style Right hand bat
- Teams Lurgan, MCC
Ross McCollum, powerfully built and dark haired was, in his prime, a magnificent sight to behold. He was, in the words of his former team-mate and opponent, Paul McCrum, "One of the cleanest hitters throughout the 80s and 90s in Irish Cricket... a carefree exhilarating batsman who could go from 0 to 50 in rapid time." He was a fine natural player, Bothamesque" in Paul's words with " powerful lofted drives."
In the Esso U 15 Cup in 1978 he topscored for NCU as they went down before a strong North West attack, making 18 out of 121-9, not enough to prevent a six wicket defeat.
Good performances at senior level were not slow in coming and saw him selected for the Ireland Youth side, led by Alan Lewis, in the International Youth Tournament in the Netherlands in 1983. He was one of the Irish batting successes, scoring 161 runs at an average of 40.25. He played two remarkable innings in the course of compiling these runs.
Rain delayed the start against Bermuda with the result that the match was reduced to 40 overs a side. Batting first Bermuda were bowled out for 107, but soon had Ireland in all sorts of trouble at 45-6. Then Ross took charge playing a "magnificent fighting innings" of 59, according to the ICU Yearbook, before being "caught on the boundary with victory in site." However victory was achieved with no further worries.
The next match against a strong England North side saw Ireland set 220 to win, a difficult task which looked worse at 34-2 and 74-3, Lewis and Charlie McCrum having both got out when seemingly set. Enter Ross to add 140 for the third with Robbie Dennison (84*). Ross made 64 having "rode his luck between some magnificent hits." Unfortunately he again fell at the final fence, caught on the boundary going for the winning hit. However a fine victory was achieved.
He was, of course, a key member of the Lurgan batting line up for around 20 years. Among his many fine performances none stands out more than his memorable 185 against Collegians in the NCU Challenge Cup second round in 1995. Collegians rather fancied their chances in this match but Ross soon forced them to change their minds! As Clarence Hiles writes, " Their bowlers were annihilated by an amazing batting performance....one of the most belligerent .... in cup history." Lurgan reached 307-7, then bowled their opponents out for 189. The innings, which he regards as the best he ever played, made Ross the first recipient of the Maulstaid Award for the outstanding cup bating performance of the season, presented by the former Waringstown scorer - and indefatigable sports' researcher - Michael Maulstaid in memory of his wife.
Ross, was not finished that season either. He made 61 in the semi final against North Down, his partnership with Graeme Hunter (92*) winning the match against expectations. In the final with Waringstown, batting in a somewhat uncharacteristic restrained manner for part of the time, he made 40 and 57. His dismissal, first ball after lunch on the second day caught and bowled off an Ivan Anderson full toss, was seen as the turning point of the match, leading to an 8 wickets win for the Villagers. He was to win the Maulstaid again the following season with a typically robust Man of the Match 125 in the quarter final against Armagh who were overwhelmed by 223 runs. He again reached a half century in the second innings of the final, this time being undefeated and seeing his side to a 5 wickets win over Lisburn. His third hundred in the competition came in the second round v Derriaghy in 1999, his undefeated 105, setting up an 89 runs win. This brought him the man of the Match Award yet again as had his 76 in a first round win over Ballymena.
His batting has also been seen to great advantage in the Irish Senior Cup, perhaps never more so than in the final against Clontarf in 1990 at Rathmines. Coming in with the scoreboard showing a distinctly unpromising 0-2, he smashed his way to 91 off 89 balls with eight 4s and five 6s, before being caught off veteran slow left armer Gerry Kirrwan. The batting struggled again after his departure but Lurgan totalled a challenging 251 before bowling Clontarf out for 178.
Ross was also a considerable force in League cricket. Among many outstanding performances we may note two innings of 112. In late September 2002, he was mainly responsible for Lurgan reaching 216-6 against the all powerful North Down attack, which he had despatched to all corners of the ground, being undefeated when the overs ran out. The Comber men were then dismissed for 190. The following year, he battered the Bangor bowling in a losing cause. His 112 enabled Lurgan to reach a formidable 241. However the weather intervened and Bangor, chasing a reduced target won with a score won with a reply of 221-6.
Ross was a regular member of the Ulster Country side at interprovincial level in the Guinness Cup and beyond. An innings of 44 against Ulster Town at Ballygomartin Road in 1983 showed his class. Town went on to win by 2 wickets, thanks to a fine all round performance from Simon Corlett, whom Ross was to rate as the best bowler he ever faced. He also made 44 against South Leinster in a match won on scoring rate. He contributed greatly to this, his runs coming off 49 balls with four 4s and two 6s. Apart from other similar scores, he also hit a bellicose 54 against Town at The Green in 1987. However though Garfield Harrison(72) was also in good batting form, their team mates were not and the match was lost by 7 wickets.
Unfortunately Ross was never able to show his true form in his three outings for Ireland. As Derek Scott noted in his Annual for 1988 as ICU Secretary, "McCollum was unlucky to be given his three caps against county teams in limited overs matches." The first of these was a Nat West First Round match against Gloucestershire at the County Ground in Bristol. Despite an opening attack of "Syd" Lawrence and Terry Alderman, Ireland reached 142-3 (Mark Cohen 66) but then fell away badly, being all out for 166. Ross, who had come into the side in place of Michael Rea, did better than most in this debacle. Batting at 7, his 13, the fourth highest score of the innings, was ended by the medium pace of all rounder Phil Bainbridge.
Three days later came two 60 over friendlies with a full strength Worcestershire side. At Beechgrove, the visitors were bowled out for 200, Graeme Hick, fresh from scoring 1000 runs in May including a quadruple hundred, was out for 21. However he recovered from this unusual setback to catch Ross off left armer Richard Illingworth for 6,Ross having again come in at the fall of the 5th wicket. Ireland were all out for 152. At Malahide the following day, Hick was one of three of the county batsmen to make a half century. Ireland this time reached 172, with 76 from Harrison. Ross, this time at 6, fell leg before to the occasional off spin of Damien D'Oliveira.
He was left out of the side for the 3 day match against Wales three weeks later. Ireland declared twice with each batsman in the top seven getting at least one good score. Had Ross been retained he would surely have done likewise. His man for man replacement Deryck Vincent made 0 and 52. Ross was never to play for Ireland again, a decision which, in view of some of his later performances discussed above, might be accounted unfair.
He has taken a prominent part in Cricket Ireland administration and will shortly - this is written in November 2011 - become Chairman of the Executive committee.
Edward Liddle, November 2011