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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Reverend WN Creyke
  • Born
  • Educated
  • Occupation Clergyman
  • Debut 4 September 1856 v United England XI at Phoenix CC
  • Cap Number 16
  • Style Batting hand unkown; slow round arm bowler
  • Teams Vice Regal Lodge, I Zingari, United Ireland XI

NOTE : WN Creyke was prominent in Irish and amateur English cricket for some ten seasons from the mid 1850s. However many problems confront a biographer whose research, dating back more than 30 years has so far failed to resolve. When this writer was compiling the Association of Cricket Statisticians booklet "Irish Cricketers 1855 - 1980 ", Creyke was provisionally identified as possibly having been Walter Pennington Creyke, from a landed family in East Anglia. However subsequent research suggests that this is most unlikely. WPC, whose portrait may be seen in the National Gallery in London, has no known connection with Ireland - or indeed with cricket - and was not a clergyman. The cricketer is believed to have been an Englishman resident for a while in Ireland, possibly on the Lord Lieutenant's staff, and was not an ordained minister of the Church of Ireland. However he was not educated at either Oxford or Cambridge as most Church of England clergy of his day were, nor has any trace of him been found in any extant Census, family history website or the earliest seen edition of Crockford's Clerical Directory. Research has also failed to discover a Will. As will be seen in the account of his cricket career below, his religious duties do not appear to have been very extensive and he must have been one of the best customers on the Holyhead ferry of the time, as his flitting between Ireland and England for cricket matches would be fairly remarkable even in these days of air travel and motorways. Any information which would lead to a positive identification of him would be gratefully received.

As a cricketer WNC appears to have been a useful all rounder. He normally batted in the upper order, being no stranger to opening, though he was also seen lower down. His scores were by no means vast, but, considering the fact that the wickets of the day were often under prepared and that some of innings were made against good quality bowling, he was an average player by the standards of the time. He also, particularly towards the end of his career, bowled effectively, picking up several 5 wicket hauls.

He appeared in the first match ever played by Ireland against The Gentlemen of England at Phoenix in 1855. The match had been arranged by Fred Ponsonby, WNC - though an Irish resident at the time, - played for the visitors who departed vanquished by 107 runs. The English side was a weak one besides WNC, it included four others who were Irish residents. WNC was one of four last minute substitutes. He was caught off the bowling of Thomas Quinn for 4 in the first innings and did not bat in the second. He is reported to have been unavailable. His place was taken by the future MCC Secretary RA - Bob - Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was a vastly superior player but the fact that he batted at 11, suggests that he had to be summoned form some other pursuit when Creyke cried off. However the following year, WNC was in the Irish XXII which played the powerful United England XI and won by six runs, thanks to fine bowling by James McCormick and Charles Lawrence. WNC contributed 4 and 0 to the cause, being leg before to Jemmy Grundy in the first innings and being out hit wicket to the legendary William "Terrible Billy" Cafyn in the second.

In 1857 he made his only appearance for Ireland in an 11 a side match on the occasion of the Gentlemen of England's third and final visit. The match ended in a draw with WNC reaching double figures - 10 and 12 - in each innings. The visitors were somewhat fortunate to escape defeat with fine batting by Lawrence and the Army officer ERF Vicars putting Ireland in a dominant position.

Apart from these matches WNC was frequently seen in Irish cricket, turning out regularly for Lawrence's United Ireland XI and for the Vice Regal XI without, it must be said, a great deal of success. One of his best matches for these teams came in 1863 when he had 7 wickets for the VR XI against Kildare. He also had "5 fors" that summer for them against the touring Civil Service side and the 12th Regiment. In the first match, when he took a further three in the second innings, he played a major part in seeing his side to a 33 run victory. That season also saw him join the Vice Regal on a tour of England. In a return match against Civil Service, he made an undefeated 29, easily the top score out of a total of 59. The match was lost by 34 runs, but WNC had shown his team-mates that the bowling could be subdued. in 1861 he also appeared in one of Dublin's Gentlemen v Players matches seen, wrongly, by Lawrence as a money raising possibility. The professionals, mostly soldiers of the Garrison, were outplayed.

A great deal of his cricket, both in Ireland and England was played for I Zingari. He was a frequent member on tours of Ireland, though whether he came over from England or was already in the country is unclear. He played against Ireland in both 1859 and 1860 but, having helped his side to victory with 23 at 10 in the first year, before being bowled by one of Arthur Samuel's underarmers, he did little in the following season. he was also seen, evidently as a last minute substitute, for the All England XI at against Ireland at Coburg Gardens, the wicket now being submerged under the National Concert Hall. Batting at 11 he made 0*in his only innings, the visitors winning by 8 wickets. Some of his most successful cricket for IZ in England came against strong school sides with his bowling to the fore. Thus his six wicket haul against Charterhouse for an IZ side including fellow Irish international the Earl of Gosford, was one of the few creditworthy performances by the visitors as the School won with some ease. Earlier in the summer he had topscored with 35 against Wellington College, his highest score of which a record has been seen. He was dismissed by George Ponsonby, nephew of Fred and son of Sir Spencer, thus maintaining an Irish connection.

His last match of which a score has been seen came in 1865 for IZ against The South Wales Club at Lord's, his only appearance there as far as I have traced. The South Wales Club was strong side that cared little for geographical exactitude when it came to selection. Thus it was that IZ found themselves facing an XI several of whose members came from the wrong side of the Severn estuary to be South Welshmen. Coming in at 6, WNC gave a return catch to a callow beardless youth who, then just a week past his 17th birthday, was already making his fourth appearance at Lord's. The scorecard reads Rev WN Creyke c & b WG Grace 0.