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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Charles Purdon Coote
  • Born 8 August 1847, Weymouth, Dorset
  • Died 20 August 1893, Ballyclough, Co Cork
  • Educated Harrow School
  • Occupation ADC to Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, later Gentleman Usher to Viceroy of Ireland
  • Debut 31 July 1871 v MCC at College Park
  • Cap Number 141
  • Style Right hand bat,slow right arm round arm
  • Teams MCC, Warwickshire (pre first class), Cork City Club, Na Shuler, I Zingari, NICC, Cork County.

Charles Coote was a member of an important Anglo- Irish family, that held a baronetcy created in 1620, the premier one in Ireland. Charles was the nephew of the 10th Baron. The family also provided him with some cricketing inspiration. His uncle, Algernon Coote, later to become a Church of England clergyman, gained Oxford Blues in 1838-9-40, but though played as a batsman never managed a score higher than 11. Indeed his entire first class career of 15 matches produced an average of 7.45. Charles was not an outstanding player either, but he was somewhat better than Uncle Algy!

Charles was a sound batsman, usually in the upper order, often opening. He played 13 first class matches for MCC between 1869 and 1874, totalling 192 runs at 9.14 with a highest score of 35. This was made v Gloucestershire at Lord's in 1871. The Grace brothers bowled the Club out for a first innings 113; Coote batting at 5 was the top score on a bad wicket. His knock was, indeed the second highest of the match, only WG with a mere - for him - 49 surpassing it. Coote failed in the second innings and the county won by 5 wickets. It should be remembered that, WG and EM apart, scores were usually low at this time. Wickets were rough and uncovered with the professional bowlers holding sway. Two other useful scores may be noticed. In 1872 v Oxford in The Parks, MCC bowled the hosts out for 121 on a rain affected wicket. Then they were hustled out for 50. Coote batting at 4, made 20. Not only was this the top score, it was the only double figure one. Oxford reached 27-2 before rain prevented any further play. In the return match at Lord's he made 32, sharing a second wicket stand of 67 with WG, who made 61, the only other respectable score of the innings. Alfred Shaw then bowled them to an innings victory.

He also took part in an historic match that season which is worth some comment though his own contribution was negligible. On 13 May MCC were due to play Surrey at Lord's. Wisden, however, states that" incessant rain fell from dawn to dusk" so play did not start till the following day. The wicket was "deceitful" and there was a "queer light for batting." MCC were all out in 44 minutes for a "marvellous little innings of 16 runs" The first 7 wickets fell for 0, there were 8 ducks all told, including Coote and WG. James Southerton, who remains the oldest Test debutant, at 49 in 1877, had figures of 9-6-5-4, while William Marten's were 9-5-11-6. They were bowling 4 ball overs. Surrey did a little better, reaching 49. MCC replied with 71 (Coote 9, leaving Surrey 35 to win. They got home by 5 wickets but Wisden believed that the result would have been closer had Captain Beecher not dropped two catches. The match was thus completed in a single day, not such an unusual occasion at the time.

Another notable match, in which Coote's part was hardly great was his last first class match, for MCC v North of England at Lord's in 1874. Opening the batting with WG, he fell for 1 and 0. His second innings, according to Wisden, ending thus, "Greenwood at mid off made a superb catch that settled Mr Coote before a run was booked." This paled into insignificance beside the bowling of Alfred Shaw, playing for MCC, who took 10-73 in 36.2 overs. MCC were suitably impressed as the Almanac in splendid period prose explained, "The identical ball wherewith Shaw obtained the ten wickets was handsomely and appropriately mounted at the expense of MCC and presented to Alfred as a memento of the Club's appreciation of his successful bowling."

Before leaving Coote's English career, we should consider a non first class match at Chorley Wood in 1872, when MCC took on Hertfordshire. It was 12-a-side and began with WG and the underarm WM Rose bowling the county out for 75. However the visitors fared worse, being shot out for 26. Coote, at 5, made 10, easily the top score. He then helped Grace bowl Hertfordshire out for 68, taking 3-15 his best figures in an important match. They then saw the Club home by 4 wickets, WG making a brilliant 75 and Charles a dour 14*. His Irish Cricket was played mostly in Co Cork, where he was a founder member of the famous Cork County Club in 1874. In that first season, he topped the batting with an average of 51, including 115 v The King's Dragoon Guards, the only hundred hit at The Mardyke that season.

The following year he headed the batting again. However he was also seen in NICC sides, never more so than at Lord's in 1870, on the occasion of North's first appearance in St John's Wood. "Mr Coote, a recent acquisition, surpassed himself," according to a contemporary account. He made a top score 85 to enable the visitors to post 260, a fine total on the Lord's wicket of the time, and to win by 10 wickets. He also played regularly for Na Shuler and I Zingari, particularly on the former's annual tour of Cork and its environs, here turning out against the County. Here his scores were surprisingly disappointing for so experienced a player, mostly against local XIV and XVIs. His highest score was a second innings 61 for The Shulers against the County in 1875, which rescued the tourists from a poor first innings and set up a 104 run victory. His next best score was 30 in 1880 v XV of Lismore. By the time he made his last tour in 1883, he no longer appears to have been playing regularly. Batting at 10 v Lord Bandon's XV he was out for 1.

He played only one match for Ireland. This was the disastrous MCC fixture of 1871, staged to raise money for the development of professional cricket in Ireland. The Irish side, a weak one, was no match for the bowling of FH Farrands, a fast roundarmer later to become a Test umpire, and Alfred Shaw. Coote, whose English experience should have been valuable to the hosts failed twice, as did all his colleagues, including Charles Filgate, who, having like Coote first class experience, might have been expected to do better. Ireland collapsed for 58 (Coote at 7 being bowled by Shaw for 1) and a miserable 24, a surrender typified by Coote run out 0! In 1873, he was in the I Zingari line up against Ireland at The Vice Regal Ground. He contributed a pair as Ireland won by 11 runs. In the first innings he was one of the 9 wickets taken by the Lord Lieutenant's chaplain, J Byrne, while in the second he was bowled by Dr Arthur Abraham, who also kept wicket in the match and was later to play for Durham.

In public life, besides his somewhat sinecurial appointments at the Vice Regal Lodge, Coote was a JP and Deputy Lieutenant for County Cork. Married with three children, he was still a comparatively young man at the time of his death. His son Charles Robert Coote played for I Zingari v Ireland at Vice Regal in 1899. Opening the batting, he was out for 0, just about the only success an Irish side devastated by a selection dispute, had in a match famous for the destructive bowling of BJT Bosanquet, then a fast bowler, and the hitting of Sir Tim O'Brien, still to play for Ireland. CR Coote thus mirrored his father in failing in representative cricket. Perhaps Uncle Algy was lucky that his career was over before Ireland started playing!

Charles Purdon Coote's biography is in Scores and Biographies Volume XI.