- Born 9 October 1967 Dublin
- Educated St Columba's College; Dublin University
- Occupation Financial Services Adviser
- Debut 28 June 1989 v Derbyshire at Derby
- Cap Number 572
- Style Right-hand bat; right arm medium pace
- Teams Dublin University YMCA
Mark Nulty was a good upper order batsman, who often opened the innings. He could also bowl medium pace effectively, making the ball swing either way in helpful conditions, but this attribute was little used at representative level. The 1987 "Irish Cricket Annual "(published by the now defunct Irish Cricket Magazine and not to be confused with the current ICA) described him thus "Few players have as much time as Nulty at the crease and, at his best, he is unflurried, stylish and totally effective." He developed his skills at St Columba's where he was outstanding, though he did not gain an Irish Schools' cap.
He first showed his talents on a wider stage in 1984, when he made his senior debut for YMCA, playing five matches and finishing third in the averages with 163 runs at 40.75, a feat which was rather overshadowed by Alan Lewis scoring 1009 runs for the Claremont Road side. Mark had a highest score of 76 and also did well for the Seconds in Senior 3, finishing second in the averages with 161 runs at 32.30. His school commitments had of course, limited his availability in the first half of the season. His major breakthrough, however, came in the 1986 season, when he scored 428 runs in 13 innings for the University, with a highest score of 128* against CYM, which was to remain a career best. He also headed the bowling with 15 wickets at 12.86.
That summer also saw him play two matches for Derbyshire 2nd XI in the Second Eleven Championship. Against Lancashire he was dismissed by medium pacer, and future England ODI bowler, Ian Austin for 14, but against Leicestershire he made a sound 31, showing that he had the ability to succeed at a higher level. His season's batting successes were to establish him as one of the leading batsmen in Leinster cricket, a position he was never to lose until his eventual retirement after the 2000 season. Injuries and work commitment meant that he was not always available, but, nevertheless, his eventual career record of 7539 runs at 27.24, with 4 hundreds and 39 fifties remains an impressive one, his average and century count being better, for example, than those of Ken Hope, Robin Waters and David Ensor. He undoubtedly benefited from playing most of his cricket in the powerful YMCA batting line up, though he chose not to prolong his career as Angus Dunlop, Jonathan Garth and Alan Lewis did theirs.
His representative debut came in 1987 when he appeared for both the Irish Universities and North Leinster. For the Universities v Ireland U 23 in College Park he came in at No 4 and in the first innings hit a majestic 116 adding 126 for the 4th wicket with Marshall Kilgore (38*), which led to an eventual 8 wicket win. The following season in the British and Irish universities Tournament - a limited over series - he hit a top score undefeated 77 in a narrow defeat by English University Unicorns and, generally, was one of the batting successes of the competition. In both 1989 and 1990 he was one of the leading batsmen for Ireland U 23, particularly on the Scottish tour of the latter year, with a best score of 121 v East of Scotland.
It has to be said that he was not always seen at his best in Interprovincials in which he played not only for North Leinster but also for South Leinster after his University career was over. He did not reach 1000 runs in the competition, but, nevertheless turned in some noteworthy performances. Thus in 1988 in Belfast at Collegians' Deramore ground, he helped Deryck Vincent secure an unlikely 9 wicket victory over Ulster Town. The hosts had batted first and were probably well pleased with a score of 248-9. However Deryck and Mark replied with an opening partnership of 179 before Mark was out for an elegant 64. Vincent, now joined by Mark's fellow Old Columban the left handed Neil Taylor, then saw his side home, finishing on 145*.
Playing for South Leinster the following season, Mark was again to the fore against "Town", but this time in a losing cause. He reached his interprovincial career best with 81 as his side reached 200, but consistent batting by the hosts saw them lose by 5 wickets. His third half century against these opponents came in 1991 when he batted second wicket down to reach the top score of 59. Lewis and Mark Cohen each made 44 and a declaration at 230-9 set up a win by 139 runs. He and the future leading referee were again to the fore against North West in a draw at Castle Avenue in 1994. Mark batted at 3 and made a stylish 71 which Lewis surpassed by one as they added 143 for the third. The visitors also found the wicket to their liking, finishing on 225-7.
Mark's Irish debut came in 1989 which was to prove his best season in the national side. He scored 294 runs at 24.41 and was described by Derek Scott, in his annual report as ICU Honorary Secretary, as "The find of 1989". After falling for 8 in a Nat West Trophy match at Derby in late June, which Ireland were poised to win until they collapsed against a formidable attack of Michael Holding, Devon Malcolm and the Dane, Ole Mortensen, he retained his place in the side for the Scotland game at Castle Avenue. In a closely fought drawn encounter, he made 43 and 17 at No 3, falling in both innings to the left arm spin of South African "Cape Coloured" Omar Henry who became the first bowler on either side to take 13 wickets in this match since the first of 1888. Henry, like Basil d'Oliviera, was denied Test Match cricket for many years because of Apartheid, though unlike the great Worcestershire man, was eventually able to represent his native country at the highest level.
In late July Lancashire came to Rathmines for a two day match which Ireland just managed to draw. Mark found himself ranged against Ian Austin once more but lost his wicket to future England paceman Peter Martin for 44 in the first innings and off spinner John Fitton in the second. Lancashire had made 212-8 declared after winning the toss and Ireland quickly lost Vincent before Mark added 60 with Cohen for the second wicket and 57 for the third with Stephen Warke. He was caught behind by Nick Speak like the bowler Martin, one of cricket's artists, though neither has reached the fame of Jack Russell. Mark also shared in a 56 run 4th wicket partnership with Garfield Harrison in the second innings, before Martin caught him. Bowler Fitton was to establish a bizarre record the following summer, by becoming the first player ever to qualify for the first class bowling averages (Minimum 10 wickets) with an average of over 100, 14 at 103.35.
Mark's outstanding innings of the season, however, came against Gloucestershire at Bristol, during the English tour. In a two day match, closely fought until Ireland's second innings, Ireland faced a first innings total of 277-8. In reply they lost Vincent for a 0 to the pace of David "Sid" Lawrence, before Mark dominated a second wicket stand of 130 with Cohen. He made a superb 78 before being caught a the wicket off slow left armer Courtney Ricketts, whose first class cricket (3 matches) was played for Sussex. Mark failed in the second innings and, though he batted usefully against MCC, in the second innings at Lord's, and Wales at Usk, was unable to repeat his earlier form.
In fact he was unable really to repeat the deeds of his first season for the remainder of his Irish career apart from in one match on the Zimbabwe tour of 1991. The host side Mashonaland Country Districts rattled up 264-4 declared with Zimbabwe Test opener Kevin Arnott making 108* a score he would better by a single run in a Test against New Zealand the following summer. Ireland then collapsed to 11-3 with openers Warke and Michael Rea going for 0 each and Dunlop for 8. Mark was then joined by Harrison and each passed 50, Mark getting 51 as they saw Ireland to the comparative respectability of 184 all out. They were both dismissed by slow left armer David Dolphin, Mark being stumped. He fell this way in the second innings also as Ireland, having been given a winning chance by their spinners Harrison and Conor Hoey, fell just short, with six wickets still standing, in a thrilling run chase, Mark contributing 27. He was not to play in a cap match for Ireland again after this tour.
Edward Liddle, March 2010