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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Thomas Cox
  • Born May 1845 (baptised 15 May) Santry, Co Dublin
  • Died 7 July 1883 Netley Hospital Southampton
  • Educated Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland
  • Occupation Army Surgeon
  • Debut 23 August 1875 v I Zingari at Vice Regal Grds Phoenix
  • Cap Number 154
  • Style Right-hand bat, bowling style unknown
  • Teams Leinster

Tom Cox was a sound opening batsman, who might well have played on several other occasions for Ireland, had not military duties taken him out of the country. His first major match in Irish cricket came in August 1874 for XXII of Leinster CC against the United South of England XI (USE) at Observatory Lane. The USE were a powerful side, dominated by WG Grace and his younger brother GF (Fred), but also including their Match Secretary and Manager James Lillywhite, jnr, destined just under three years later to become England's first Test captain, when he took a side of fellow professionals to Australia and New Zealand.

The hallmark of his left arm slow medium was its accuracy and he took 6 of Leinster's wickets, but was upstaged by WG's round arm leg breaks (8). Fred, who specialised in "shooters", deadly on the underprepared wickets of the day, had five. However the hosts did well with the bat, notching a useful 245. Going in first, Tom impressed the far from taciturn WG, a sledger before a word was spoken in anger on Australian fields, top scoring with exactly 50. Leinster's bowling then reduced the Englishmen to 12-3 before Fred Grace joined his brother, Fred making 103 and WG 153. This was, at the time the highest score made against a XXII. No prizes are offered for guessing who later surpassed it! The match ended in a draw, the visitors having made 431, Leinster finished on 31-2. Leinster lost money on the match. Despite the presence of the World's leading cricketer, Kingstown Regatta proved a strong counter attraction.

The following year Tom appeared for the Rathmines side against other strong professional opposition in the shape of Yorkshire United. Leinster played eighteen but were routed by Welsh born paceman Robert Clayton, and Alan Hill, a fast roundarmer, another who would feature in the inaugural Test Match. Against such opposition, Tom did well, again top scoring. His 24 was the only double figure score, even though Leinster were reinforced by the notable all rounder William Caffyn, now returned from his "Missionary" work in Australia. "Terrible Billy" was unable to stave off defeat, as, though he twice helped the Dubliners put their visitors out cheaply, The home batsmen collapsed a second time, Tom's 7 being the third highest score.

Tom's two matches for Ireland were both against I Zingari. Making his debut, together with David Trotter in the 1875 match, played at the Vice Regal Ground in late August 1875, Tom opened the batting but fell for 9 and 5. His wicket was taken by Old Etonian underarmer Edgar Lubbock (6/30) in the first innings, and William Law in the second. Law, a clergyman, was later to die from pleurisy. Ireland owed a victory - more convincing than had seemed likely - to the second innings batting of William Hone, snr and Frank Kempster, and the bowling of David Neill, and the Lord Lieutenant's chaplain, the elusive Reverend J Byrne.

The following year Tom appeared again the opposition this time being somewhat stronger. Ireland had to follow on 177 behind but, in the end, their visitors won what was considered an excellent match by only three wickets. Tom and most of his team-mates failed in their first innings. He fell to the roundarmer William Midleton. A useful bowler, Middleton was better known as an amateur jockey, a fact which eventually caused his death when he broke his neck in a point to point sixteen years after the match under review. In the follow on Ireland did much better, with Frank Kempster making 105, Ireland's first ever hundred. Tom contributed a staunch 37 sharing in partnerships of 47 for the third wicket and 56 for the 4th. He eventually lost his wicket to WF Forbes, a paceman best known for having thrown a cricket ball 136 yards when aged 18. Ireland were able to set IZ 207 to win, a good finish resulting.

Military duties took Thomas Cox to sterner fields in coming years and he was not seen in an Irish side again. He was still a comparatively young man at the time of his death, having contracted a fever from the patients whose lives he was striving to save. NB T Cox opened the batting for XXII of Worcestershire v USE XI in 1868. The make up of the rest of the side suggests that it is unlikely that a young newly qualified Army surgeon, would have been among their number, but it is a possibility. For the record the USE attack was very strong and this T Cox failed, making 5 and 3.