CricketEurope Irish Cricket History logo
Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Joseph L Fleming
  • Born
  • Educated Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland
  • Occupation Doctor
  • Debut 4 July 1889 v Philadelphia at Phoenix CC, Phoenix Park
  • Cap Number 205
  • Style Right hand bat, leg break bowler.
  • Teams Leinster

James Fleming was a useful lower order batsman and a good leg break bowler whose off field life seems shrouded in mystery. We believe that the identification of him as a doctor who practised in Ireland, Wales and London is correct, but, it has proved impossible to establish a date of brith or death for him, or to discover any other details. This biography therefore, while it will outline what is known of Dr Joseph Fleming's medical career, is necessarily very short of detail. We would welcome any further information which either adds to or corrects what is given here.

His debut for Ireland against Philadelphia - The Gentlemen of Philadelphia - was the second match of the Americans six week 12 game tour. They were below full strength but generally made a good impression against stiff opposition. They had opened their tour with a draw against Dublin University Long Vacation Club, six of whose players turned out for Ireland, who began with 206 faltering against the medium pace of George Patterson, who took 10 wickets in the match and was the best all rounder in American cricket at the time. Joseph contributed 12, which was to be his highest score for Ireland. The visitors gained a lead of 7 runs, Joseph going wicketless in an accurate spell and finished up needing 294 to win. Joseph took a hand in ensuring that did not, clean bowling Reynods Brown for 81, who- in partnership with EW Clarke (61) - had looked like winning the match. He was, however, caught and bowled by Joseph, a spectacular return catch, one handed and high above his head. Later he removed Frank "The Baron" Brewster, who proved to be one of the longest lived American participants of the match surviving until 1939. "The Baron" was an all rounder, who bowled effectively for USA v Canada, but, despite playing for two decades, did little for Philadelphia. Joseph finished with 21 - 8 - 27 - 2.

He was in the side also for the I Zingari match at Phoenix at the end of August. Ireland drew this match, having been forced to follow on, In the IZ innings, Joseph achieved his best bowling figures with 21 - 6 - 56 - 3, including the wicket of future England captain, Conservative politician and knight of the realm, FS Jackson then at the outset of his career. The Irish batting was routed by Frank Cobden, hero of "Cobden's Match", the Oxford v Cambridge contest of 1870, and Henry Tylecote, an Oxford Blue of slightly later vintage. It was the latter who twice disposed of Joseph, holding a return catch in each innings.

Joseph's last match for Ireland came against Scotland at Raeburn Place the following year. This was the first in the long series and ended in a draw, with Ireland very fortunate to escape defeat. Their hosts, needing 96, finished on 94-4. Joseph, who did not bowl in the second innings, had 0-56 in the first.

At the conclusion of the match, Joseph returned to Dublin to take part in a week's interprovincial cricket held at Rathmines to coincide with the establishment of an Irish Cricket Union. The cricket - the first such contest - was badly interfered with by rain and by several players being unavailable. The ICU was established but was to founder shortly afterwards. In what cricket was played Joseph's bowling stood out, though the cold wet weather was hardly friendly to leg spin. The tournament started with a Leinster v Munster match, the hosts struggling against Tom Perrott who, though playing on his home ground, was from a well known Cork family. Leinster were dismissed for 184 to which Munster replied with 241. Joseph had 7-64 in a fine display of bowling against a side whose leading batsman was the Limerick left hander MW Gavin. Eventually Munster wanted 163 to win but had the rain to thank for a draw as they finished on 74-8. Their batting failed mainly because of Joseph who took 5-38, bowling unchanged. Munster went on to lose narrowly to Ulster but, unfortunately, rain allowed only 30 minutes play between Ulster and Leinster so deprived Joseph of another chance to display his skill.

He was seen no more in major cricket after this season. If our identification of him is correct, he briefly practised medicine in Co Meath, before taking up a position in Aberdare, Glamorgan in 1903. By 1911 he was established in a more fashionable practice in Belgravia, where he was still working in 1919. Thereafter it has proved impossible to trace him. As stated above we would very much welcome any information which adds to or corrects what is shown here about Joseph Fleming.