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Biography
Roger Kyran Whelan
  • Born 27 July 1980 Dublin
  • Educated Marian College, Dublin
  • Occupation Singer / Musician
  • Debut 13 May 2007 v Essex at Castle Avenue
  • Cap Number 659
  • Style Right hand bat, right arm fast medium
  • Teams Railway Union

Roger - or Roj - Whelan was an opening bowler whose height and pace made him an awkward proposition with the new ball. He numbered a large proportion of opening batsmen among his victims. Like many other Irish cricketers, he is a member of a well known cricketing family. His father Maurice, was a Railway Union stalwart took 6-20 against Donacloney in the Irish Senior Cup in 1985, while his sisters Heather and Jill not only play for Railway with great distinction but preceded Roger in gaining Irish caps. At the time of writing Heather has 56 - 32 as captain - and Jill 54.

Roger's school Marian College was not then a cricket playing one, though it included several other players of talent, including Niall and Kevin O'Brien as well as Paul Ryan who played at senior level for Clontarf. Roger played instead for Railway's various age group teams, captaining, for example, an U12 side which reads now like a "team of all the talents." As well as Roger and the O'Briens, it included another future Irish international in Kenny Carroll, an Ireland A one in Conor Mullen and another very useful player in Greg O'Meara. Once an established senior player, Roger did, of course, have a number of fine performances to his credit In 2002 he took 37 wickets at 16.95 with best bowling figures of 4-26.

However arguably his best match that season came in the away League match with Malahide when he turned in a remarkable all round display. Winning the toss, Railway were, apart from Niall O'Brien, soon in trouble and were 138-7 when Roger joined his old school mate. As he has a career batting average in single figures it must be supposed that Malahide did not think that he would delay them for long. Instead he dominated an unbroken 8th wicket stand of 97, finishing undefeated on 62, Niall being on 114. He then opened the bowling and, returning figures of 10-2-19-3 was easily the most economical and successful of the victorious visitors attack.

Among his other noteworthy performances, two which occurred in the 2005 season, may be noted here. Against Phoenix, early in the season, he had 4-19 including Thinus Fourie and dangerous hitter Dave Langford-Smith. Phoenix still won by 2 wickets but Roger was to produce a truly match winning spell against Old Belvedere later in the summer. Railway posted an impressive 297-6, with South African John Anderson making a century, but the Cabra side were, thanks to Roger, never in the hunt. His figures of 10-4 -24-5 sent them crashing to defeat by 191 runs.

He also played a leading part in Railway's run in the Irish Senior Cup in 2003, producing Man of the Match performances in the Quarter and Semi Finals. In the former tie, against local rivals Pembroke at Sydney Parade, he came on first change after Gerard and Kevin O'Brien had opened the bowling. In a devastating spell of 10-4-7-4, he destroyed the upper order and sent them neighbouring club pavilionwards for a total of 77, thus setting up an eight wicket victory. In the Semi Final, at home to Limavady, he had 2-17 in 10 overs as the visitors collapsed against him and Kevin O'Brien. The visitors fell for 87, again leaving Railway a simple task. Roger again bowled tightly in the Final against North County, but the presence in the Fingal side of a precocious teenager named Morgan meant that Railway were set too stiff a target against quartet of international bowlers.

By the time Roger came into interprovincial cricket, the number of teams had been reduced and the tournament had become the Regional Challenge in which he represented the Southern Ireland XI. In a two day match against the NCU XI at Castle Avenue in 2002, he had first innings figures of 15-6-37-3, including the ever valuable wicket of Kyle McCallan as the northerners could only muster 81 in reply to the South's 260. However the visitors easily saved the game, McCallan topscoring with 83, before falling again to Roger, caught and bowled. Another impressive spell came the following year against the North West at Rathmines. Opening the attack with Munster's Brian Koch Roger had 3-29 including William Porterfield, caught behind by Niall O'Brien for 9 and Dekker Curry for 41. The visitors totalled 214, but rain intervened when the South were on 93-3, thus ruining the prospect of a good finish.

He gained seven Ireland A caps between 2003 and 2007, his best performance coming in the first of two one-day matches against Denmark in the latter year. Played at Stormont it resulted in a 7 wickets win for Ireland with the Danes never recovering from losing their captain / opening batsman Freddie Klokker caught behind for 0 in Roger's first over. Freddie, a left hander and also a good wicket keeper, is a highly capable cricketer who had spells on both the Warwickshire and Derbyshire staffs but could not quite break through to regular first class cricket. Roger finished with figures of 9-3-19-2, having also removed middle order batsman Max Overgaard.

Though selected as one of Ireland's reserves for the World Cup of 2007, he was not called to the Caribbean, but his debut for the full side came in may against Essex in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy at Castle Avenue. Ireland, ill served by their two overseas signings, had made a poor start to the tournament but reached 227-5 off their 50 overs with Porterfield, Kevin O'Brien and Peter Gillespie all getting runs. Essex were 46-2 at one stage but then Ronnie Irani and future Test batsman Ravi Bopara added 180. Roger had Bopara, a superb stroke player when in form, lbw when the county were two runs short, and finished with figures of 9-0-54-1, only Andrew White's off spin being more economical.

Roger returned to the side for the ODIs against India and South Africa on successive days at Stormont in late June. Against India Ireland were dismissed for 193. Roger, at 11, being stumped off Sachin Tendulkar for 5. He then opened the bowling and, having been hit for 4 and 1 by "Lord Snooty" (aka Sourav Ganguly) found himself bowling to Tendulkar. The Maestro creamed his first ball through the covers for 4 but, attempting to turn the next one to leg, was clean bowled. Then Ganguly and Gambir put an end to Ireland's hopes powering their way to a 9 wicket victory.

The following day, against South Africa, a rain affected match saw Ireland lose by 42 runs. Roger, however, picked up another star wicket, AB de Villiers - the best batsman ever to play for Carrickfergus? - being brilliantly caught on the boundary by Alex Cusack.

That proved to be Roger's last match for Ireland. At the end of the season, he decided to retire from all forms of cricket. His decision to concentrate on his musical career meant that he could no longer give the time and commitment necessary to continue playing cricket at a high level. He was full of praise for "all the coaches who have helped me over the years and everybody at Railway Union." This writer is most certainly not competent to comment on Roger's musical career, but reviews of his band the Roj Light are most favourable.

A career record of 3 wickets for 153 may not seem one to be remembered but when one thinks who the three were, Roger Kyran Whelan may rest content with his international career.

Edward Liddle, January 2012

International Matches
View Match Ireland lost to Essex by 7 wickets (Friends Provident Trophy, Clontarf, 13 May 2007)
View Match Ireland lost to India by 9 wickets (ODI, Stormont, 23 June 2007)
View Match Ireland lost to South Africa by 42 runs (ODI, Stormont, 24 June 2007)
Articles
Whelan retires from cricket
Irish international Roger Whelan announces his retirement from all forms of the game.