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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Henry James Hemsworth
  • Born circ 1859
  • Died Quarter 2 1889; Dublin (South)
  • Educated
  • Occupation Unknown
  • Debut 27 August 1883 v I Zingari at Phoenix CC, Dublin
  • Cap Number 182
  • Style Hand unknown; right hand medium fast.
  • Teams Leinster

Henry Hemsworth was a good opening bowler, who, in his two appearances for Ireland, was unfortunately, able to show only glimpses of the form he displayed in a short but successful career for Leinster. He formed an effective partnership with slow right armer JAC Penny for the Rathmines club for most of the 1880s, until Penny emigrated to Australia where he continued to play the game.

Together, they were so successful for Leinster that among the other bowlers only the inaccurate but pacey Tom Tobin got much of a look in. This was particularly true of the 1881 season when Penny took 95 wickets and Henry 89, but they repeated - approximately - these figures almost every season.

They opened the bowling together in Henry's Irish debut v I Zingari at Phoenix in August 1883. IZ sides varied in strength but this was one of the strongest ever sent, including the two great all rounders CT Studd and AG Steel as well as wicket keeper/ batsman Alfred Lyttleton, the only England Test cricketer to become a Cabinet Minister. Alfred, who was also a football international and had an FA Cup winner's medal - for Old Etonians of all sides! - would the following year taking his gauntlets off but retaining his pads, bowl underarm in the Oval Test against the Australians and return figures of 4-19, while WG kept wicket. Steel was a superb all rounder but his legal practice, he was a QC, and his fondness for the grouse moor restricted his cricket. Studd was destined to spend his life as a missionary in hostile environments, but still found time to ensure that the mission chapels he constructed were exactly 22 yards long!

In this match Ireland did well to reach 255, Henry - in last - being bowled by Studd for 3 - and gained hope when IZ batted as he immediately removed opener Charles Frederick Carlos Clarke caught at slip by fast roundarmer Horace Hamilton for a duck. Thereafter neither Ireland nor Henry had much luck as the visitors totalled 333, with Steel and Studd both passing 80. Henry finished with 1-71. No Irish batsman, except William Hone Jnr, could do much with Studd (14-176 in the match) in the second innings. Henry, batting one above the roller again, he was clearly a ferret going in after the rabbits, hit a few lusty blows to reach 11 before the future evangelist got him again. When the visitors batted a second time they made short work of chasing down the 62 needed to win, though Henry had the satisfaction of clean bowling Steel for 21. The match ended, however, when Clarke, exacting revenge for his first innings 0, struck Henry through the covers for the winning boundary.

Henry did not play again until the following season when he was in the Irish side which played the Philadelphians. It was the second match of their tour; they had already drawn with Dublin University. All told they played 18 winning 8 and both losing and drawing 5. They were too much for their hosts, in Phoenix Park, emerging victorious by 6 wickets. Though history does not relate it, Henry may have been injured for he bowled only five overs in the match, all in the first innings at a cost of 20. Batting, again at 11, he was out for 0 in the first knock to the slow left armer WS Lowry who dominated the Irish batsmen in this match. Henry managed one more in the second innings before being caught off all rounder Joseph Fox. Joseph's style has not come down to us, though he seems to have been a fast bowler. He did little on this tour, though he had a "5 for" v Gentlemen of Scotland, but in a club match in Philadelphia in 1882 for Merion v Oxford - neither side bearing any relationship to Anglesea Road or The Parks - he took 7-6.

Henry James Hemsworth did not play for Ireland again. He was, unfortunately, to die young and is one of those about whom any further biographical information would be gratefully received.