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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
William Blacker
  • Born 29 September 1853, Dublin
  • Died 21 November 1907, Straffan, Co Kildare
  • Educated Harrow School, Cambridge University
  • Debut 14 July 1887 against Canada at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 167
  • Style Right-hand bat
  • Teams Oxford University, MCC, Oxford and Cambridge Past and Present, Gentlemen of the South, Phoenix, Co Kildare, Na Shuler

William Blacker came from a long established land owning family with estates in Kildare and Armagh. The younger son of Cambridge graduate Thomas Samuel Blacker, William is described in his Wisden obituary as having been, "an excellent batsman at Harrow and Cambridge." It must be said, that, even allowing for the often poor wickets of the time and the low career averages of many of his contemporaries seen as good players, the Almanack is guilty of overstatement. Blacker's figures suggest that he was lucky to have been awarded his blue all four years at Cambridge and, that he was, at best, a competent bat, who did however sometimes prove himself against good opposition. In 1871 and 1872, he was in the Harrow XI, appearing against Eton at Lord's. This was then a two-day match, and one of the highlights of the London social calendar. Eton won both matches, Blacker failed in the first with single figure innings, but his 45 and 7 in the 1872 fixture, helped Harrow give a much better performance, going down by 3 wickets, whereas the previous year had seen them defeated by an innings.

For Cambridge, during four years in the XI, he scored a total of 711 runs at 16.00. His only success in the University match came in his first year when, in a low scoring match he made 24 (second highest score) and 26, which was not enough to stop a 3-wicket defeat. A pair in the following year, in which his season average was only 8 was followed by 19 and 1 in his third year, otherwise his most statistically successful in first class cricket, with 315 runs at 26.83 and two 50s. In his final year in the side Cambridge were at last victorious. Restored to number 3, having been demoted to 5 the previous season, he contributed little to the 9-wicket win. Out for a duck in the first innings, the scores were level when he batted in the second: he was 0* at the finish.

His best match for Cambridge was v Gentlemen of England in 1875. Against an attack which included the famous Walker brothers and the ambidextrous David Buchanan, Blacker made 46 and 64*, thus playing a major part in a 7 wicket win. In the second innings, following the loss of 3 cheap wickets, he and WS Patterson put on an unbroken 127 to win the match. Earlier in the season he made 40 against Surrey that helped secure an innings win. However his career highest was for the Gentlemen of the South v the Players of the South the following season. In a drawn match he made a stylish 86, against an attack including the wonderfully accurate Jim Lillywhite, who was about to take a team to Australia and become England's first Test captain, and James Southerton, father of a future Wisden editor, who went on the same tour and set a record for the oldest Test debutant: 49 years and 119 days. The previous season, against the same opponents and bowlers, Blacker had made 31.

For Ireland, he was disappointing. He appeared v Canada at Rathmines in 1887: batting at 3 he was out for 8 and did not bat again as Ireland won by an innings, thanks partly to 67 by the brilliant Army batsman John Dunn and 62 by Oxford blue Drummond Hamilton. Blacker also played v I Zingari at the Vice Regal ground the following season. Opening the batting he made 7 and 27. In the second innings he fell to AW Ridley, a medium pace underarm bowler, who had twice dismissed him in the University Match. Blacker also appeared for Ireland v MCC in 1879. This was a 12-a-side match and his performance is not included in his overall statistics on this site. He made 0 and 6, being dismissed by a fast round arm bowler, WF Forbes.

He was also prominent in Na Shuler matches, often appearing for them in Cork between 1876 and 1891. In the former year he hit 117* v Cork County in the second innings, to draw the match after the hosts had built a respectable lead. He also made a second knock 82 against the County in 1888 to help the "Shulers" to a big win. However his other appearances tended to be more like his first class ones, promising more than they achieved. He was a prominent figure in Co Kildare for many years, for example he was a magistrate and was also High Sheriff for the County in 1878. Despite his cricket achievements, his real passion was riding. He was described as "a brilliant horseman devoted to steeple chasing and hunting." Alas, this was to prove his undoing. His death, at the age of 54, was as the result of a hunting accident.

His obituary is in Wisden 1907 and his biography in S&B Volume XII.