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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
William Booth
  • Born circa 1853 Dublin
  • Died circa 1910 Dublin
  • Educated Santry School; Dublin University
  • Occupation
  • Debut 11 July 1890 v Scotland at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh
  • Cap Number 207
  • Style Right hand bat; slow right arm
  • Teams Dublin University Past and Present; Phoenix

William Booth was a good slow right armer, able to break the ball both ways. He had a somewhat strange cricket career in that he was ignored by the Dublin University selectors for most of his time there, gaining Second XI Colours in 1876, but no further reward. Then, having been a successful member of the Phoenix side for much of the 1880s, he gained an Irish cap v Scotland in 1890, took a "5 for" on debut but was never to play again.

Having, as stated above, not played for the University 1st XI while a student, he was asked to play for the Past and Present side against WG Grace's South of England XI in mid June 1890. After a closely fought first innings the Doctor's team won rather easily, but William gave a good account of himself, perhaps showing College Park what it had missed a decade and a half before. After the hosts had posted a moderate 131, William, in combination with the fast bowler Clem Johnson, bowled the visitors out for 124. WG, who invariably complained about the umpiring when playing in College Park, was run out for 34. No doubt the complaints continued. However William's bowling was the highlight of the innings. Returning figures of 24 - 5 - 73 - 5, his wickets included those of Grace's opening partner the grandiloquently named Octavius Golding Radcliffe, the well known Kent player Alec Hearne and the No 3, shown in the scorebook as Mr KE Burn. I can find no player of this name in English cricket at the time and believe that he was the Australian EJK Burn always known as KE. He was currently in the Australian touring party but did not have a match at his time. Burn, a Tasmanian, was a good batsman but had been chosen as the reserve wicket keeper. Once he was safely on board ship and there could be no tuning back, he informed his team-mates that he had never kept wicket in his life! Johnson, incidentally, had 4/31.

William took one second innings wicket, as the visitors cruised to an eight wickets win.

William's one match for Ireland came in July against the Scots at Raeburn Place. He was one of five new caps and seven substitutes. The match ended in a draw, very much in the hosts' favour, with a match saving 92 by Jack Meldon enabling Ireland to hold out. However William's bowling was the other bright spot for the Irish. In Scotland's first and only innings of 304, he came on second change and had the most satisfying figures of 16.3 - 6 - 44 - 5. As with his figures against Grace's XI, this suggests that he was prone to being hit, but responded with wickets. His best one that day was the well known Middlesex amateur Gregor McGregor, who kept wicket for England against Australia that summer and in 1893.

There are clearly some mysteries in William Booth's cricket career. He was never asked to play for Ireland again, even though I Zingari visited shortly after this match. Any light on this and/or on the missing biographical details would be most welcome.