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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Edward Robert Thompson
  • Born Quarter 1880, Donaghmore, Queen's County (Laois)
  • Died Unknown
  • Educated Hampstead Heath School
  • Occupation Landowner
  • Debut 22 July 1892 v I Zingari at Vice Regal Ground, Phoenix Park.
  • Cap Number 218
  • Style Right hand bat; bowling hand unknown.
  • Teams Dublin University

Edward Thompson was the son of Charles "a private gentleman" and Thomsina Thompson, a landed family in Queen's County. Edward was educated at Hampstead Heath School, but it has proved impossible to trace any references to that institution's cricket. He entered Dublin University in October 1888 and, having gained a place in the XI the following summer, held it until he left the University in 1893.

He had some reasonable performances in the XI's three day matches, though he began these games in 1889 with 1 and 0 against Lancashire. In the second innings of this match he was yorked by the terrifying Arthur Mold. Whether he asked the umpire, as Doug Insole once did when "bowled" by Tony Lock, "I know I'm out but was I bowled or run out?" has not been recorded for posterity.

Against Cambridge in College Park in 1892, in a match arranged as part of the University's tercentenary celebrations - he found himself opening the batting and saw the hosts off to a good start by making a sound 20, before being bowled by the medium pace of FS - later Sir Stanley-Jackson, who was to captain England to a famous 3-0 Ashes victory in 1905, winning the toss in each of the five Tests. Jackson was later to be Chairman of the Conservative Party, in which role he was believed by some to have been responsible for the notorious Zinoviev Letter, and Governor of Bengal.

Edward also played some useful innings in 1893, a season in which the University were unbeaten. Against Warwickshire Club and Ground at Edgbaston, they scored a remarkable 199 run victory, largely due the bowling of Willie Morrogh - slow left arm - and Clem Johnson the future South African paceman. However the batsmen also played a part with Frank Browning leading the way. Batting at 8, he never had an established place in the order; Edward made a useful 28, putting on over 50 for the 8th wicket with spinner Archie Penny. He then completed the victory by catching the County's last man William Stubbs, off Johnson to end the hosts' second innings. The University then moved on to play Essex at Leyton. The County were still awaiting first class status, but had strong side and the visitors did well to emerge with the better of a draw in a two day match. Essex included Charles Kortright then most certainly the fastest bowler in England. Few of the University upper order batsmen could handle him except Browning in the first innings and Arthur Gwynn in the second. Browning met the speedster by his normal resolute and rock solid defence, Gwynn came down the wicket and struck the destroyer back over his head. Edward played two tail end knocks in support 14 run out in the first innings and 24 in the second. The latter ensured that the game was safe.

In 1891, playing for the University's Long vacation XI against Howth he took all 10 wickets in the opposition's innings. Unfortunately, his exact figures are not available, but eight of his victims were clean bowled.

His Irish debut had come in 1892 when he became the 43rd of the 49 Irish internationals produced by the great coach Jesse Richards during his 29 years in College Park. It has to be said that Edward's Irish career was not over successful. He played three innings worthy of note in cap matches in a 10 game career during which he scored 179 runs at 12.79. After failing with the bat in two matches with I Zingari, he was one of the Irish party selected and captained by Jack Meldon that toured Canada and the USA in the autumn of 1892. The team were reported to have been very popular everywhere they went and to have greatly enjoyed the experience. However they almost came to grief on a hazardous Atlantic crossing and several of them, particularly Johnson, who was almost swept overboard, took a long time to recover. Furthermore they must have been shaken by the fact that only a change of plan in Boston prevented them from being involved in a bad railway accident.

On the whole tour, Edward did not exactly excel, managing 155 runs at 12 in all matches. He played three noteworthy innings, however. In a non cap match early in the tour when Ireland played 12 against a Boston and Lowell XV, he came in low in the order at 9 and, sharing in a half century stand with his University team-mate, Archie Penny, saw Ireland to 155, which proved enough in the end to set up four wicket victory. The following match against Canada was left drawn with both sides in a position to win, rain causing much time to be lost in the two days allocated. Opening with the left handed MW Gavin, he soon lost both him and Johnson, but found a good partner in his captain. Both played stylish cricket, their driving and leg side strokes being much admired. They took the score past 100 but Edward was then out for 30 bowled by John Laing, arguably the best all rounder ever produced by Canada. He was a fast bowler who took 63 wickets in nine matches v United States at an average of just over 10, including 14-57 in the 1895 match. Edward did little in the second innings falling to the medium pace of Somerset born Michael Bristowe.

The team then travelled to play All New York via the Niagara Falls and a steamer voyage on the Great Lakes.

Ireland were to win a fine match at Staten Island and Edward, going in first with Meldon in the second innings, after failing down the order in the first played a major part. Ireland needed 203 and Edward well supported by a good 39 from Bud Hamilton, saw them well on the way, making a highly praised 41. Penny and the Leinster all rounder Frank Kilkelly then saw them home with some skilful hitting. Edward was not a success in the first two Philadelphia matches and did not play in the third. Nevertheless he was in the Irish side throughout the 1893 campaign contributing much to an impressive innings win over I Zingari. Ireland, batting first, ran up a total of 302 which proved enough for an innings victory. However they owed much to Edward. The early batting had flattered only to deceive with several batsmen getting out when set. No longer an opener, Edward came in at 126-5 and proceeded to seal an end making 43* in a highly praised innings while 176 runs were added for the last five wickets. Bob Lambert, on debut, struck a typically belligerent 51 at 10! Unfortunately Edward did little on the English tour which followed, failing to reach double figures in any of the three matches he played.

We would very much welcome any further details about Edward Robert Thompson, particularly with regard to his life away from the cricket field and his date of death.

NB This player was previously wrongly identified as Ernest Routledge Thompson. I am greatly indebted to David Penney whose extensive researches into Dublin University cricketers has established, among many other gems of information, that Edward could not possibly have been the cricketer concerned and that Edward Robert is undoubtedly a correct identification.