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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Arnold Felix Graves
  • Born 17 December 1847 Fitzwilliam Square Dublin
  • Died 24 May 1930 St Alban's Hertfordshire
  • Educated Windermere College, Dublin University
  • Occupation Barrister, Educational Administrator, Poet and Novelist
  • Debut 22 June 1868 v All England XI College Park, Dublin
  • Cap Number 113
  • Style Right hand batsman; underarm Bowler
  • Teams Dublin University, Phoenix, Co Limerick

Arnold Graves came from a family which had settled in Ireland in the 17th century but was able to trace its roots to followers of William the Conquerer who had been granted lands in Yorkshire following the Conquest. The Irish branch became highly reputed in academic, literary and sporting circles. If its best known member was Arnold's nephew Robert, War Poet and author of Goodbye To All That and I Claudius, several others were also highly distinguished. Thus Arnold's father Reverend Charles Graves was a Fellow of Trinity College (Dublin University) before becoming Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick, having been one of the founders of Phoenix CC. Arnold's three brothers were also distinguished sportsmen, one John, who died young, also playing cricket for Ireland, another Alfred, Robert's father, was a fine cricketer and rugby footballer - as well as being a writer and Headmaster - while a third Charles also played both games. One of Arnold's sons, also Arnold was in the Dublin University XI of 1910, a side including six Irish internationals.

Arnold was four years in the University XI from 1866 in company of such players as William Hone (Senior) and Tom Casey as well as, in his first season, his brother Alfred. His best season was 1867 when he totalled 407 runs at 31.20 with a highest score of 67, finishing second in the averages. It must be admitted, however, that his performances in representative matches, for the University and for Ireland, were far from eye catching.

His highest score in the former of such matches was a second innings 15 for the University against a strong I Zingari side in College Park in September 1867. He had fallen for 0 in the first innings to Osbert Mordaunt, a member of a family which - if his father-in-law is included- contained eight first class cricketers. Mordaunt, an underarmer whose exact style has not come down to us, took 9 wickets in the first innings and fifteen in the match. In his second knock, Arnold lost his wicket to the leg spin of RAH Mitchell, long serving cricket master at Eton, but was one of those who ensured that the visitors batted again. He also batted usefully for the University Past and Present XXII against the United South of England XI in 1871, a match in which thanks to the bowling of JP Mahaffy and the coach Jesse Richards, the hosts won by an innings. Arnold contributed 12 to the total of 243, being caught off the slow right arm of James Southerton, later to become the first Test cricketer to die. It is, however arguable, that Arnold's greatest contribution in this match came with the ball when he dismissed the visitors' opener Harry Jupp for 47. Jupp was an outstanding batsman and one who often showed even more, if anything, disinclination to leave the crease than WG himself. After his dismissal Richards and Mahaffy dominated the rest of the match.

For Ireland, however, Arnold was an almost total failure. His debut match, against the All England XI, came in College Park in June 1868, a match which the visitors had little difficulty in winning. Batting far down the order in Ireland's XXII he was bowled by slow underarmer Crispin Tinley for 0, while in the second he was caught off pace bowling roundarmer John Oscroft for 4. The following year, however, he played a part in the hosts holding on for a draw against the same opposition at Rathmines. The first innings saw Ireland scrape a first innings lead of 4 runs but Arnold made only 3, courtesy of the fearsome fast bowler George "Tear-Em" Tarrant. In the second he came in at No 16, when Ireland needing 128 to win, had lost 14 wickets cheaply. However, together with R Jones of Holyville Park, Arnold stood firm against Tarrant, Tinley et al, finishing on 6* with Ireland on 41-14.

Though he played no more major cricket after the early 1870s, he was still an important force in the game for some years to come, certainly keeping the flame alive in Co Limerick cricket for some time, until passing the torch to Montiford Gavin. He was also an accomplished performer in other sports, captaining the University Rugby XV in the 1866-67 season and proving himself a fine Tennis player. In 1877, after leaving University, he was one of the founders of Dublin's internationally renowned Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club. At University he was also an oarsman, though he did not, on the water, match the skills of his exact contemporary Clontarf born, Abraham (Bram) Stoker.

Away from the sports fields, Arnold led a varied and successful working life. Following his elder brother, John, he passed into the Indian Civil Service but did not take up an appointment. Instead he was called to the Bar and practised as a barrister for some years, but his real interest lay in education. He is justly regarded as the true founder of Technical (Vocational) Education in Ireland and played a leading role in the setting up of Kevin Street Technical College, now part of the Dublin Institute of Technology, where his name is commemorated by the Arnold F Graves Post Doctoral Scholarships.

Arnold also shared the literary talents of several others of his family as a poet and novelist. His novels, based upon classical history and legend, included Helen Of Troy and Prince Patrick, but neither they or any of his other works have been traced on line book shops or other from sources.

He married Constance Wetherby; they had four sons and one daughter. However, here tragedy struck. Two of his sons were killed in the First World War, while their daughter died in the horrific Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. However his son Arnold Perceval Graves had a successful career as a schoolmaster, having, as already mentioned, followed his father not only to Dublin University, but also into the Cricket XI. However Arnold P Graves also followed his father's form against major opposition. Opening the batting against Nottinghamshire in College Park in 1910, he was dismissed for 0 and 6 by the long serving and outspoken Tom Wass, purveyor of both pace and leg spin, who once, on being addressed as "Wass" by the autocratic amateur CB Fry, replied, "Mr Wass to the likes of thee!"

Arnold Felix Graves left Ireland shortly after the establishment of the Free State. He died in St Albans, Hertfordshire in 1930, a man who deserves to be remembered both as a versatile all round sportsman and innovative educationalist.