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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Arthur John Fleming
  • Born circa 1860
  • Died 3 March 1915 Blackrock, Co Dublin
  • Educated
  • Occupation Bank official
  • Debut 22 May 1879 v MCC at Lord's
  • Cap Number 164
  • Style Right hand bat; wicket keeper.
  • Teams Leinster

Arthur Fleming was a very sound opening or upper middle order batsman and a competent wicket keeper. Slightly built, but - after the fashion of the time - heavily moustached, he was always instantly recognisable at the wicket, because of the eyeglass he invariably sported while batting. He "did not stand out as a flamboyant hitter," according to The Irish Field but, "was safe, courageous, and never to be flustered." Aged over 50 and his Irish days long gone, he hit a magnificent 229* for Leinster against Phoenix, carrying his bat through the innings. His appearances by this time were only spasmodic, so his achievement was indeed remarkable . For Ireland, he was consistency personified. Batting only nine times, twice not out, between 1879 ad 1884, he made 269 runs at 38.29. Only on his debut was he dismissed for a single figure score, though his highest innings was only 49. It is to be regretted that his work as a bank official, not only caused his early retirement from International Cricket, but made him unavailable for the North American tour of 1879, when his class would have been truly tested by the Philadelphian attack.

The single figure score, 4, came v MCC at Lord's in 1879. The ground conditions were appalling and only Nat Hone, David Trotter, and to a lesser extent Jack Nunn, among the Irish batsmen showed the ability to cope with them. However the visitors still won by an innings as only EJC Studd, elder half brother of the famous triumvirate of CT, GB and HW, was able to counter the Irish attack of Arthur Exham, slow round arm and Tom Hanna, fast underarm, who had done the hat trick against I Zingari in 1877, a feat not to be repeated until Trent Johnston in the Friends Provident Trophy Match v Gloucestershire in 2007.

Fleming's 49 came in the very next match against an all amateur Surrey XI at The Oval. Rain restricted play to the first day, but, batting at 3, as he had done at Lord's, Fleming insured that Ireland finished on more or less level terms. He was ninth out, after "playing beautifully." He gave only one chance, during his 8th wicket stand of 35 with fast bowler Horace Hamilton, the only other batsman to offer much resistance. Horace, incidentally, contributed 30! Apart from the American tour, Ireland did not play again until 1883, when Fleming was the leading batsman on a short tour of England. There is some evidence that it was difficult to raise a side for these games. The former Dublin University captain JF Adair, by then a Cambridge academic, shared wicket keeping duties with Fleming, who had as his opening partner in the second match RM Marsh, who has no record of having played in Ireland at all but appears to have been a Dublin born army officer of that name. Also in the side for the second match was the Kent all rounder Frank Hearne, later to play Test cricket for both England and South Africa.

In the first match v MCC, Ireland suffered their first defeat at Lord's going down by 4 wickets in a low scoring match because they unselfishly played extra time for their hosts to win. The MCC bowling was much stronger than in the previous match, including John West, a high class round armer, who was later a Test umpire and T Attewell, a medium pacer who took over 1500 first class wickets, besides playing in 10 Test Matches. Opening the batting against such an attack, Arthur's scores of 21 and 32 were most praiseworthy. Attwell got him in the first innings, following a very slow and cautious innings for which he was "loudly cheered." In the second he played in "masterly style," before being bowled by the medium pace amateur bowler Frederick Maude, best known away from cricket, for having four times been an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate. In the next match, against The Aldershot Division, which may account for the presence of the mysterious Marsh in the side, Arthur made 41 in Ireland's only innings. At the end of the summer I Zingari was the opposition at Phoenix. The visitors won with some ease thanks largely to a superb all round performance by CT Studd, who disposed of Arthur in both innings for 14 and 20.

Increasing banking responsibilities meant that his Irish career was now almost over. The following summer, he was unable to get leave to play against the Philadelphians, again missing an opportunity to test himself at a higher level and played what turned out to be his last match for Ireland v I Zingari in Phoenix Park at the end of August. Ireland collapsed twice against the pace of Clem Cottrell, but Arthur signed off in some style being undefeated in each innings. In the first, on a good wicket with a strong batting line up, Ireland were bundled out for 95. Going in first, he had reached 45 when he ran out of partners. There was only one other double figure score, 17 from Old Etonian Army captain John Bayly. Arthur's innings was described as, "a great display of sound batting and concentration." Ireland did rather better in the second innings reaching 199. Joe Hynes made a half century and Trotter also batted well, but plaudits were reserved for Arthur, who, coming in third wicket down, carried his bat for 42. Cottrell took another two wickets and football International and FA Cup medallist Bercy de Paravincini had a "5 for", with his slow round armers.

Arthur John Fleming's future unavailability for Ireland was to prove a great loss to the national side's batting. His consistency was remarkable and, despite his failure to get beyond 49, not unsurprising considering many of the wickets of the time were sub standard, he deserves to be remembered as one of the leading Irish batsmen of his time. Had he been able to play for longer, he might well rank amongst the greatest of any era. Proof for this assertion may be found in his performances for the London Club Wanderers when work took him to the UK capital in 1900. He was described in a match against Ealing as "Batting very well " while scoring a "dashing" 85. It was clearly a batsman' match, Wanderers making 275-3 declared while Ealing, later to be the English club of Eddie Ingram, replied with 195-2.