- Born 24 October 1959
- Occupation Police Officer
- Debut 25 May 1989 v Northamptonshire at The Meadow, Downpatrick
- Cap Number 571
- Style Right hand batsman; right arm medium pace
- Teams Limavady, Dungannon, RUC, North Down, PSNI
Adrian Semple was a good batting all-rounder. Often, but not invaribly opening the innings, he was, as his interprovincial record shows, a model of consistency, while his medium pace bowling was good enough for him regularly to open the bowling in senior cricket, and to trouble the best batsmen on the circuit.
He and his twin brother Lionel, who sadly died in 2009 well before his time, were among the most prominent cricketers in the RUC side in the 1980s, both putting in some useful performances in the NCU Challenge Cup. Thus in a first round match in 1982 a 60 runs defeat at the hands of Bangor could hardly be laid at Adrian's door. He took 3-58 as Bangor, with Chris Harte making an elegant 118, posted a formidable 256-7. RUC replied with 196-7, Adrian being third top scorer with 34.
He also contributed well to first round wins over Cliftonville in 1985, when he made 38 in an 8 wickets victory and two years later when his undefeated 58 helped the Newforge men to a total of 181-6 which seemingly moderate score was enough to beat Woodvale by 18 runs. Unfortunately the second round match, against Laurelvale, was lost by 4 wickets though Adrian made a robust 32 and Lionel bowled well to take two of the wickets which fell.
In 1988 RUC reached the quarter final, Adrian having played a notable part in a 7 wickets win over Armagh in the first round, contributing 48 in pursuit of a total of 180-8. The 1991 season saw the RUC side win the British Police Championships, defeating a strongly fancied Metropolitan Police XI at The Oval. Adrian had played a leading part in the semi-final won over the Greater Manchester side that were also highly regarded. Topscoring with 64 Adrian led the successful run chase for a total of 215. That season also, he and Lionel were the leading RUC bowlers, Lionel taking 45 wickets at 17.31 and Adrian 28 at 19.89.
1992 saw the twins moving to The Green following in the footsteps of another fraternal pairing in the McCrums, and a number of other fine players. While Lionel soon returned to Newforge, Adrian was to play a key part in some of North Down's best years. He announced himself with 40 wickets at 13.73 in 1992 and played a vital role during his time with the Comber side which won not only the League title, but also the NCU Challenge and Irish Senior Cups.
He was well to the fore in the famous tied NCU Cup Final of 1994 with Lisburn, the first such ending to a final in 102 years. Having been out for 1 in ND's first innings, lbw to Derek Heasley, he struck back with figures of 3-28 to help gain a 2 runs first innings lead. Then coming in at 72-4, he batted through the rest of the innings, The Meadow now lit by sunlight after the first day's gloom, to finish undefeated on 61. Needing 206, Lisburn lost their last man run out off the last ball with the scores level. Though some Wallace Park supporters disagreed, Adrian was a worthy Man of the Match. He had played a leading part in the club reaching the Final with a praiseworthy all round performance in the quarter final against Downpatrick at The Green. Having contributed a useful 28 to his team's by no means winning score of 188, he then took a crucial 5-44, setting up a 12 runs win.
He also turned in a match winning performance with the ball against Railway Union in the quarter final of the Irish Senior Cup in 1995. Batting first Railway were bowled out for 137 with Adrian taking 5-16 to make his batsmen's' task comparatively easy. They took it, going on to win by 8 wickets.
Arguably Adrian's batting was seen at its best in interprovincial matches. Either opening or at 3, he played 31 matches for Ulster Town between 1988 and 1992, scoring 936 runs at 34.66 with 1 century and 4 fifties. The century 104* came against Ulster Country at Ballygomartin Road in 1991 in a high scoring draw. Batting first UT posted 279-6 declared with Adrian at No 3 coming in at 99-1 to share partnerships of 64 for the 3rd wicket with Charlie McCrum and 75 for the 5th with Robin Haire. UC replied with 179-6. Three years earlier he had hit his second highest score 89 against South Leinster at Park Avenue before being caught by John Hoey off the medium pace of Alan Lewis. The match ended in a draw, possibly ensured by Adrian bowling a well set Mark Cohen for 36. His best bowling figures also came that year when he had 3-10, including James McBrine and Mark Gillespie, to help achieve a 53 runs win over North West.
His two matches for Ireland were both against Northamptonshire in 1989. One 60 overs contest and one 50 overs which gave valuable experience for the coming Nat West Trophy game with Derbyshire which Ireland, without Adrian, came close to winning. In the first match, at Downpatrick in which Adrian was joined by fellow new caps Allan Rutherford and Paul McCrum, the visitors were restricted to 243 from their allocated overs but Ireland were 63 for 4 when Adrian came in. He was one of the five wickets to fall to teenage leg spinner Andy Roberts, who represented England U19 the following year and took 107 wickets in first class cricket. Ireland were dismissed for 183.
They lost heavily again the following day but did bat out 50 overs to finish on 171-5. Adrian who came in at 119-5 helped Garfield Harrison (60*) achieve this goal as well as adding 52* for the 6th wicket, the highest - just - partnership of the innings. He also had one wicket, opener Nick Felton, scorer of over 10,000 first class and more than 3,000 List A runs for Somerset and Northants, being caught by Harrison for 54, thus ending an opening partnership of 116.
Adrian Roland Semple will be remembered as an effective all round cricketer who could usually be relied on to make a telling contribution with at, ball or both. It is highly likely that in a different political climate he would have added to his international caps.
Edward Liddle, June 2013