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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Bayly
  • Born 10 July 1858, Debesborough, Co Tipperary.
  • Died 20 July 1912 Debesborough, Co Tipperary.
  • Educated Eton College
  • Occupation Army officer.
  • Debut 4 June 1884 v Philadelphia at Phoenix CC, Phoenix Park
  • Cap Number 185
  • Style Batting style unknown, slow left arm
  • Teams Phoenix, Na Shuler

John Bayly was a member of an Anglo - Irish land owning family in Co Tipperary, where his father was a prominent cricketer in the 1860s. John was in the Eton XI in 1874. Though batting at 11, he played a leading role in the two key school matches that season. Opening the bowling v Winchester, on the opponent's ground, he had 4-47 and 2-9, as Eton won by an innings and 102 runs. His wickets included the host's best batsman HR Webbe, who was later to captain Oxford and, 12 years after this match, to collapse and die, having just said the words "Thy Kingdom come," while reading the Lord's Prayer to a Sunday School class in London. Prominent for Eton was Alfred Lyttleton who made 104. He was later to keep wicket for England and become a cabinet minister. His elder brother Edward, better known as a distinguished churchman, captained the side. Altogether eight members of the family played first class cricket, several being distinguished public servants. Today (November 2007) the best known is Humphrey Lyttleton, musician and chairman of BBC Radio programme I'm sorry I haven't a Clue.

Edward Lyttleton was not overtly impressed by Bayly. He was later to write, "He developed a real talent for bowling which only lasted for about eight weeks." He praised his bowling against Harrow at Lord's, "He was the only one of our side who puzzled AJ Webbe... but .. he never bowled a good over again." As we shall see that was a rather harsh judgement. AJ Webbe, who made 77 and 80 in the match, was the elder brother of HR, preceded him as Oxford captain and had charge of Middlesex for 12 years, besides playing one Test Match. Avoiding Sunday Schools, he lived to be 86. Bayly took 2-49 and 2-30 helping Eton to win by 5 wickets.

Joining the Army, Bayly reached the rank of Captain in the Suffolk Regiment. He was, therefore not seen much in Irish Cricket, though he appeared for Phoenix and in some Na Shuler matches. Thus in 1878, he took 4-36 for the Shulers against Cork County XV, including the opening batsman William Goulding, grandfather of future Irish wicket keeper Basil Goulding. He did, however, make 0 at 10. In the next match, though failing again with the bat, he took 8 wickets in the match v Lord Bandon's XIV, with 5 in the second innings. This enabled NS to record a 107 run victory

He reappeared some eight years later and was seen to better advantage as a batsman. In a match the Shulers won he played a leading all round role. Opening the batting with Cambridge Blue William Blacker against Cork County at The Mardyke, he top scored with 30, having taken 2-39. On the same ground v The Garrison of the South of Ireland, he continued to belie Lyttleton by taking 9 wickets in the match. He again opened the batting and struck a quick 36, second top score to Leland Hone's 46 as NS won by an innings.

He played twice for Ireland, both matches being at Phoenix in 1884. Against the touring Philadelphians, in miserable conditions, on their first visit, a strong Irish side batted and fielded poorly and went down by 6 wickets. Bayly was not used until the end of the visitors first innings, bowling only three wicketless overs. As a batsman he contributed 8 and 16, down the order, The second knock was one of the better ones in a poor home performance. Against I Zingari, in front of a large crowd in fine weather, later in the summer he was seen to better advantage with bat and ball, though Ireland were again disappointing, Batting at 5 in the first innings he put on 36 with AJ Fleming for the 4th wicket, the only worthwhile stand of the innings. Having been almost caught chancing his arm early on, he was bowled giving the charge to the slow leftarmer Henry Bruen, a very good bowler, who might well have been playing for Ireland, as he was from Carlow and the son of former Irish player Sir Henry Bruen. Opening the bowling Bayly had 2-44, including leading bat PJ de Paravinci, who had helped Old Etonians win the FA Cup against Blackburn Rovers two years earlier. Bayly was promoted to open the batting in the second innings, but made only 1. IZ won by 10 wickets.

Bayly was not seen in an Irish side again. His career was not outstanding, but he had, surely, done enough to prove a member of the Lyttleton family wrong, an achievement which others, in various walks of life have attempted to do, unsuccessfully, for well over a century.

I am much indebted to Mr P Hatfield, Archivist of Eton College for his valuable assistance with this player's Eton details.