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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Nathaniel Hone
  • Born 1847, Dublin
  • Died 31 March 1929, London
  • Educated St Columba's College; Cambridge University
  • Occupation Bookmaker
  • Debut 28 August 1868 v I Zingari at Vice Regal Ground, Phoenix Park
  • Cap Number 123
  • Style Right-hand bat, slow right arm.
  • Teams Phoenix, Na Shuler.

Nat Hone was the middle of three brothers to play for Ireland, a fourth was a member of the Irish side in North America in 1879, captained by Nat, but did not play in the cap matches. In addition, Nat's nephew and three cousins also gained Irish caps. He was in the XI for three years at St Columba's, no mean achievement as it then contained masters and sometimes old boys, playing more as a club side. Among Nat's contemporaries in the side however, apart from his cousins William (known in cricket circles as William jnr to distinguish him from Nat's elder brother) and Jeffrey were Philip Bagenal, later a historian of some note, whose family did much to establish cricket in Co Carlow where their name survives in a club often the focal point of Leprechauns' tours in more modern times, and William Maturin, who became a clergyman but was, at the age of 68 drowned in the Lusitania disaster.

Nat was not regarded as being as good a batsman as his siblings William and Leland or his cousin William, but he was a very attractive player, "the prettiest bat of all of them," as Bagenal later recalled. He played for his Cambridge College and, in 1868 made his Irish debut v I Zingari as a late substitute for WS Hunt, a batsman replacing a bowler. He had only one innings being caught at mid wicket off JFF Horner, later a knight, for 0. He did, however take a useful wicket in the visitors first innings, that of RAH Mitchell, a regular in these matches, for 3. IZ easily saved the match, following on, thanks to a brilliant innings from CF Buller.

The following year the young Nat found his batting really tested when the United South of England XI played XXII of All Ireland. Alas, like many of his team-mates, he failed against the great professional bowlers Edgar Willsher and James Southerton, managing only 0 and 3.

His first worthwhile score for Ireland came in the IZ match of 1878, which was won by Ireland, thanks mainly to the bowling of paceman Horace Hamilton and slow medium roundarmer Arthur Exham. Batting at 8, in the first innings, Nat, despite being interrupted by thunderstorms, made a useful 25, to prove his second best score for Ireland in an 11 a side match, and, sharing in a profitable 8th wicket stand with GD Casey, helped Ireland to a 187 run lead.

1879 was the most important year in Nat's cricket career. It saw him as captain of his country; make his highest score for Ireland - narrowly missing a hundred at Lord's - and lead the first Irish side to cross the Atlantic. For Ireland v MCC at Lord's, he found a very weak side fielded against a strong Irish one. Further the weather was very bad and the Lord's ground almost waterlogged. Batting was difficult, but, winning the toss, Nat opened with David Trotter and they led off with 161, to remain Ireland's first wicket record until surpassed by Stephen Warke and Michael Rea in 1992. Nat, whose cutting in particular was highly praised, made 87. Batsmen struggled for the rest of the match, but the openers had done enough to set up a victory.

At the end of the summer MCC came to Dublin for a 12 aside match, which like the USE game, will not be found in his statistics on this site. The visitors were victorious, Nat being one of the few Irish batsmen to show any form. In the first innings he was run out for 13, a not uncommon mode of dismissal for those batting with his cousin William, but in the second, he top scored with 26, as Ireland collapsed for 76 all out. The second highest score being 8, made by William.

The American tour, sponsored by two Irish lawyers in New York, one of whom was almost certainly EH Morean, who had played for Ireland in an odds match 10 years earlier, was an enjoyable social occasion with some good cricket being played. The team, selected by Nat, contained four other members of his family, though only three, Nat and his cousins William and Jeffrey took full part. Brother William, snr, was combining the tour with his honeymoon, and brother Joseph, not in the same class as cricketer, played only in non cap matches. Nat struggled to find form, doing little in the two Philadelphian games, but showed better form in the odds matches. In Canada, towards the end of the tour, Ireland totalled 396 all out in a drawn match v XV of Whitby. Four batsmen passed 50, only the last two in the order failed to reach double figures. Closely pursued by Cousin Jeffrey (70), Nat top scored with 75.

He played four more matches for Ireland after his return, captaining the side in his finale v Philadelphia at Vice Regal in 1884. However in none of these matches did he make a significant contribution. Later he settled in London, and, though a member of MCC and Surrey, had become far more interested in the world of horse racing. He owned horses which performed well on the flat, and established a firm of bookmakers. His nephew Pat thought that he was too kind hearted to make much of a success of this, recalling, how after Nat's death, a letter from a client allowed off debts was found, which concluded with the words, "I will recommend you to all my friends." His biography is in Scores and Biographies Volume XV.