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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Thomas Hugh Hanna
  • Born 1 November 1846 Belfast
  • Died 10 June 1934 Mauntogoro, North Island, New Zealand
  • Educated
  • Occupation
  • Debut 20 August 1877 v I Zingari at Phoenix CC
  • Cap Number 159
  • Style Right-hand bat; fast right hand underarm.
  • Teams Ulster CC

Tom Hanna, the first man to do the hat trick for Ireland - and, indeed, for 130 years the only man to have done so - was, even in his time, somewhat of a relic of a bygone age. The controversy between underarm and round arm bowling had long been resolved, and even the latter form of attack was now beginning to disappear, overarm having been in use, though of doubtful legality for some years, since about 1856. Tom was, however, a very effective bowler, and, judging by the number of wickets he took which were clean bowled, his pace must have been sharp by the standards of the time. It should be remembered that an underarmer was not necessarily a lob bowler. An underarm delivery was anything bowled from below shoulder height. Thus, as the reported deeds of the legendary Brown of Brighton, a century before Tom Hanna indicate, it was possible to extract both pace and lift off the pitch in this style.

Tom played with great success for the Ulster Club at Ballynafeigh, never better than in 1877, the year of his Irish debut and hat trick. That season, in all matches, he took 124 wickets at 6.70. 118 of these were bowled. A week before his well remembered feat in Phoenix Park, he appeared for a team designated North of Ireland, v I Zingari at Ormeau. The Zingaros were frequent visitors to Belfast, their match normally, being against an NICC XI, strengthened by a few outside imports. This team, however, was some what different. Only three were regular members of NICC, William Vint, Charles Stelfox, masquerading under his favourite alias of CE Charles, and John Henderson. Tom was the only other northern based player in the side. The best players of the day from elsewhere in the country, such as William Hone Senior, his brother Leland, and David Trotter - as well as some more mediocre ones, such as Co Meath landowner John Roberts, made up the rest of the team.

The match was remarkable for an outstanding, match winning second innings hundred by Oxford Blue Charles Marriott, a long term captain of Leicestershire in its pre first class days, and two remarkable bowling performances by Tom. I Zingari batted first and were put out for 95. Unfortunately the bowling analysis, as is so often the case in matches of this era, are not available, but Tom took six wickets, all clean bowled, blowing away the upper order. North replied with 123, thanks largely to 38 from Trotter. Marriott's splendid knock enabled the visitors to post 383, but Tom took a further six, again all clean bowled. The 383 proved a winning total, but Tom had certainly given the gilded amateurs of English cricket something to remember. I Zingari then played a match against XVI of a more genuine NICC, without any supporting cast, but this match was a rain affected draw.

The Ireland v I Zingari match began on 21 August, the rain - having followed the tourists to Dublin - preventing play on the first day. An extra day was added which was to prove crucial. When he came in to bat on the first day, Tom became the seventh Northern player to appear for Ireland, and the first of them not to be from NICC. Unfortunately he was out for a duck. Had it not been for the Hone cousins, Leland and William Junior, Ireland, for whom the veteran captain George Barry was making his final appearance, would not have reached 135. The I Zingari bowling pair of Charles Francis, a fast bowling Oxford Blue who never lived up to the reputation he established at school, and Arthur Ridley, a lob bowler who was probably the best batsman in the side, sharing the wickets. However the three man Irish attack, with Tom being joined by David Neill, who also took over 100 wickets that season, and the fearsome round armer Horace Hamilton, proved equally formidable. I Zingari were put out for 99, Tom, with 4 ball overs the rule, returning figures of 32 - 18 - 39 - 3, including the dangerous Ridley. Going in again Ireland were routed for 72, with only Carlow batsman, the Uppingham School educated William Alexander coping with Ridley and Francis.

The last morning of the match began, before a sparse crowd because of the Horse Show on the other side of the city, with the visitors requiring a further 31 with 5 wickets left. Tom started the second over of the day - Neill having sent down the first - with a dot ball. He then bowled Irish born Cambridge Blue, George Macan with a shooter. The next ball yorked the visitors' captain Lord Willoughby De Broke and the hat trick was completed by bowling wicket keeper William Higgins. Hats were thrown in the air as the small crowd became wildly excited. This was repeated six overs later, when Neill took the second of his two wickets that morning to finish off the innings, only seven runs had been added, of which just three were from the bat. Tom's four overs had cost one run as he finished with 20 - 12 - 12 - 4. Amongst the spectators was one who showed little or no excitement. The Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Marlborough, was there under sufferance. Like his grandson, Winston Churchill, he had little time for cricket. I Zingari must have been glad that Tom, though selected, was not available for the following year's match. JH Nunn made his debut in his place.

In fact he played only two more matches for Ireland, both on the England tour of 1879, under the captaincy of Nathaniel Hone. MCC were easily disposed of at Lord's. Batsmen mostly struggled after Hone and Trotter had posted 161 for the first wicket, to remain the record until Stephen Warke and Michael Rea passed it in 1992. Tom, bowling in tandem with Arthur Exham, a skilful slow round armer, had one wicket - bowled of course - in the first innings, then in the follow on had figures of 26 - 16 - 34 - 4. There is no need to describe the manner in which these wickets were taken; they included GF Vernon, the best bat in the side, and JS Russel, a Scot who had played for NICC, Ireland in odds matches and his native country. He was probably the most accomplished player in the team after Vernon. Ireland moved on to a rain ruined match against a Surrey XI at The Oval. Each side had time for only one innings, with Tom, at first change, being wicketless but economical, 36 - 15 - 37 - 0. Hamilton and Exham shared the wickets.

Tom was not seen in an Irish team again. He finished with 12 wickets at 12.25. Only one of them was not bowled. This was the wicket of Walter Hadow in the first innings of the I Zingari match. He, perhaps it should go without saying was out to a return catch. Tom was soon to emigrate to New Zealand, where he married in 1885. It is to be assumed that the underarmers were also seen in the land of silver ferns, but no record of this has been found. He was approaching his 88th birthday at the time of his death. It will be seen from the details at the head of this biography, that some of Tom Henna's personal details are unknown. Anyone who is able to supply these or any details of his life and possible cricket in New Zealand is asked to do so. In the meantime, "The indefatigable Tom Hanna", as Clarence Hiles has called him, deserved to be remembered amongst Ireland's most remarkable cricketers.