CricketEurope Irish Cricket History logo
Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Edward R Fitzgerald
  • Born 16 May 1868 Moira Albert Road St Kilda Melbourne
  • Died 11 October 1942
  • Educated Oscott College, Birmingham; Dublin University
  • Occupation
  • Debut 14 July 1887 v Canada at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 190
  • Style Right hand batsman, fast right arm round arm.
  • Teams Dublin University, Phoenix, Melbourne.

Edward Fitzgerald was the youngest of three Australian born brothers who played for Dublin University and Ireland. The biographies of his elders Francis and John, with whom he vied for the accolade of being the family's best cricketer, also appear on this site, while Francis' biography also includes details of their family background. A fourth brother, Brigadier Percy Fitzgerald, was briefly seen in first class cricketer, in the colours of MCC.

Having honed his cricket skills at Oscott College, Edward entered Dublin University in October 1885, being in the XI for the following six seasons and gaining his colours each year. He was an outstanding all round cricketer, at a time when, under the fierce tutelage of coach Jesse Richards, the University's cricket was entering its golden era. As a batsman, Edward generally opened. Though like all Richards' products, he had a strong back foot defence, he was a brilliant stroke maker, who totalled 2421 runs for the University at 27.29. He hit two hundreds, both against the Stoics, an XI composed of former members of the XI, 112 in 1887 being his career best. He also bowled effectively and accurately at a fast round arm, taking 138 wickets at 12.79. On top of this he was also a fine wicket keeper.

Pat Hone in Cricket in Ireland quotes a contemporary, but untitled newspaper account as describing him as, "Probably the best amateur wicket keeper of the present time, standing up to stopping, catching and stumping off the fastest bowling." It appears that he mostly kept wicket until 1889, when the arrival of Frank Browning in the University side meant that he was more often seen at the bowling crease. 1889 was his best season with the bat, when he hit 558 runs at 39.85, while as a bowler 41 wickets at 13.70 in 1891 was his best though he also had 40 in 1887.

He was seen in the University's matches against major opposition, having played his first aged 18 in 1886, when he was in the XV which took on the All England XI, which was really Nottinghamshire with a few additions such as James Lillywhite, a former professional in College Park and, of course, England's first Test captain. The visitors won by 4 wickets, though the finish was rather bizarre. No scoreboard was in operation so they batted on - losing two further wickets - having passed their target, the scorers neglecting to inform them of their victory.

Edward was seen to best advantage in such matches in 1889 and 1890. In the former year, the full Lancashire side came to College Park for a two day match. They were far too strong for their hosts winning by an innings and over 200 runs. Edward, opened the bowling as Frank Browning, newly arrived from Marlborough College kept wicket, and took 0/46 but it was a different matter with the bat. He and Browning went in first against the off spin of Abe Watson and the ferocious pace of Arthur Mold. This must have been a daunting experience, for not only were the pair among the best bowlers in England, but they both had highly suspect actions. Mold was eventually forced out of the game and, while Watson never suffered that fate, he was probably denied a Test place because of the controversy.

Batting well and - against Mold - bravely Edward and Browning put on 42 for the first wicket before the latter was bowled by the fast man. Edward then put on 32 for the second wicket with Jack Nunn, brought - none too reluctantly - out of his barristers' chambers to reinforce the side. Masquerading as JH Williams, Jack hit out at the attack, encouraging Edward to do the same. He - Edward - reached 37 with a number of crisp drives before being leg before to Johnny Briggs, a superb slow left armer, but another to meet a tragic death. Nunn made 24, but there were no more double figure scores as the innings folded for 102. The hosts' second innings was a procession, though Nunn made 42 and Edward hit the second top score, making 14 before being stumped off Briggs. No one else reached double figures.

The following season the University fielded a Past and Present side v WG Grace's United South of England XI. The match was closely fought over the first two innings but then the hosts collapsed against the left armers Gloucestershire paceman Roberts and spinner Martin of Kent. Both had the forename Fred and both later became first class umpires. Opening, Edward, who had failed in the first innings, was one of the few to make anything of them. Playing in his usual fluent style, he made 48, before Roberts bowled him. Only JW Hynes (24) otherwise reached double figures. They put on 45 for the third wicket, 42% of their side's total. He also made 21 opening against the Philadelphian tourists in 1889 for the University Long Vacation Club, a match in which the visitors, having just completed their long trans Atlantic voyage were forced to follow on.

Edward's Irish debut came v Canada at Rathmines in 1888. In all he was to win 12 caps as well as playing several non cap matches on the North American tour in his debut year. Two of his caps were won in 12 a side games on that tour, so do not appear in his statistics on this site. His overall figures were 384 runs at 24 and 9 wickets for 114.

He first came to prominence as a batsman for Ireland in the Scots match at Rathmines in 1888. The Scots were bowled out for 65 in two hors on a rain affected wicket. Then Edward and Dominic Cronin put on 56 for the first wicket, making light of the conditions. Edward was at his best, driving and cutting to hit eight 4s in 37 before he was out to a fine running catch at mid off from the left arm fast bowler GE Robinson. Thanks to some remarkable bowling by his brother John, Edward did not have to bat again as Ireland won by an innings.

Immediately the match was over, Edward and John were amongst those who journeyed north to steam out of Lough Foyle bound for North America on Ireland's second visit there. Hynes had arranged the tour but, during the voyage, Cronon was elected captain. Both had recently captained the University and the team, which was some way below the full strength of Ireland, was largely composed of past and present University members. Edward's wicket keeping was one of the features of the tour, a Canadian paper describing him as, "an excellent ball trap." He played some useful innings in the non cap odds matches and also made 30 against Canada in an innings victory at Toronto. Here he was dismissed by the formidable Hal McGiverin, " one of the best bowlers ever to play for Canada" according to John Marder the historian of the USA v Canada matches. Mc Giverin, who also played cricket in England for some seasons was a barrister and politician, being a Canadian cabinet minister in the 1920s.

The first Philadelphia match on the tour was a close and exciting game, with Ireland failing by 7 runs to reach their target of 127. Several batsmen failed at crucial moments but Edward with scores of 33 and 30 acquitted himself well against high class opposition, his second innings threatening to win the match. As we have seen the Philadelphians were on tour themselves the following year and Edward, having performed satisfactorily in College Park, took a leading role in Ireland's near win at Phoenix. He opened the batting with Browning after Ireland had won the toss; they also shared wicket keeping duties. Their partnership realised 58 though Edward benefited from being missed at slip by Dan Newhall, one of the greatest of all American cricketers. After Browning was out, Edward continued to display all his strokes, being finally out when the score had reached 117 in 90 minutes. His share was 59. One Dublin paper, however, described his knock as having been, "a little cautious." In the second innings, as Ireland chased quick runs, he hit 19 of the first 20 runs in four 4 ball overs, this time putting on 118 with Browning before he was out for a chanceless 60 with twelve 4s. The match ended in a draw, dropped catches and a shortage of time enabling the visitors to survive.

His final two matches were the I Zingari games of 1890 and 1891, in both of which he distinguished himself. In the former year Ireland won by three wickets, thanks to the left arm medium pace spin of Oxford Blue George Berkeley and a fine all round performance by Edward. Berkeley began the match by bowling the Zingaros out cheaply, despite the presence in their side of Prince Christian Victor at No1. The Prince is said have been Queen Victoria's favourite grandchild, though as the competition included the Kaiser and the Tsarina Alexandra this may not be much of an accolade, he the only member of the British Royal family to have played first class cricket. Unlike some Indian potentates who achieved a similar level, he was quite a good batsman, though he did not show it in this match. Like Marshall Porter, Dublin University and Ireland batsman of the 1890s, he was to die of typhoid while on active service in the Boer War.

Ireland, in turn, found the pace of London stockbroker and Middlesex paceman Clement Cottrell hard to handle. Edward took him on at the start of the innings, reaching 31 before his off stump was knocked out of the ground. Browning (19) and Nunn (33) also reached double figures to give Ireland a slight lead. Berkeley again bowled well in IZ's second innings, but it was left to Edward at his fastest to destroy the lower order taking 4.10 in 12.3 overs. Cottrell struck back with a further 4 wickets, but Edward and Nunn again stood firm to see Ireland home.

The following year saw the match ruined by rain as Edward with 29 alone stood firm against the pace of AH Evans. Evans took 9 wickets in the innings, denying himself all 10 by catching Edward at slip off his fellow opening bowler G Miller. Evans's son AJ was to play one Test during the disastrous summer of 1921 when England's selectors showed even more than usual signs of panic as the Ashes stayed Down Under yet again. AJ was a mediocre county cricketer, but a few years earlier, had as POW been a serial escaper. His book of his experiences "The Escaping Club" was to become the prototype for WW Two memoires such as "The Wooden Horse" and "The Colditz Story." Rain prevented any play after the first day of the match under review so Edward Fitzgerald was never seen In Irish colours again. He was still a young man and must have continued to play cricket for some years. Any further information about him would be gratefully received.

Since the above was written the researches of Gerard Siggins and fresh information on Cricket Archive have produced some further details of Edward's career. He clearly returned to Melbourne shortly after his last match for Ireland and is to be found playing in the Victoria Cricket Association Premiership in the 1893/94 season for the powerful Melbourne Cricket Club, then seen by itself - if not always by other Australian clubs - as the equivalent of the other MCC some 12000 miles distant.

In October he was in the side which was lucky to escape with a draw against a star studded East Melbourne team which included players of the calibre of Frank Laver and Albert Trott. The latter, a fast bowling all rounder, destined to hit the ball over the Lord's pavilion, ruin his own benefit match by taking two hat tricks and eventually shoot himself, was far too much for his opponents taking 8-51 including Edward for 9, the joint second highest score. Evidently keeping wicket in this match, he also made a stumping in the East second innings as the match petered out.

Early in November Edward was again in the side. this time against South Melbourne. Forsaking the gloves he took 2-29 and also caught Sam Morris, the first Afro Caribbean to play Test cricket. Edward then made 15 out of a first wicket stand of 41, easily the largest of the innings, but the match again finished in a draw. The third and final match in which he appeared that season was against Fitzroy, later to become the home side of the illustrious Harvey brothers. On this occasion Melbourne won with some ease but Edward's contribution, again as an opener, was insignificant.