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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Arthur Percival Gwynn
  • Born 11 June 1874, Ramelton, Co Donegal
  • Died 14 February 1898, Rangoon, Burma
  • Educated St Columba's College, Dublin University
  • Occupation Official in Indian Civil Service
  • Debut 25 August 1893, WH Laverton's XI at Westbury, Wiltshire
  • Cap Number 223
  • Style Right-hand bat, wicket keeper
  • Teams Dublin University, Stedalt, Dundrum, Na Shuler

Arthur Gwynn was a very good batsman, happiest at 3 or 4, but also capable of opening the innings. He was regarded as a better bat than his more famous brother, Lucius, while at St Columba's, and, though he soon lost this distinction at University, he remained a fine forcing player, capable of more destructive innings than Lucius but lacking his soundness and grace. Entering Dublin University in 1891, he was quickly into the XI the following summer. Remaining a key member until 1897, he was captain in his last two years. He was also a quick and agile wicket keeper, though he shared this role with Marshall Porter for his club, and only kept wicket in one innings for Ireland, making a stumping.

Arthur was a very different personality from his brothers, all captains of School and University cricket and this showed through in his cricket. They, Lucius, Robin and Jack, were introverts, chary of talking about anything, particularly their own achievements. Tall and powerful, compared to the slightly built Lucius, Arthur was extrovert in personality, a dashing batsman, not reluctant to discuss his own abilities!

When he was only 19, the University played Essex at Leyton. Charles Kortright, then the fastest bowler in England, in an age when pacemen were almost as common in the Counties, as they were to be in the 1980s Caribbean, troubled all bar two of the batsmen. One was Frank Browning, who made a typically painstaking half-century, the other was Arthur. In the second innings he made a 30 minute 43, hitting the fastman back over his head, and, employing the pull that his orthodox brother frowned on, depositing him to the midwicket fence. He returned to the dressing room telling his teammates, "Kortright is easy!" Here, however, lay his trouble also. He scored only 4 hundreds for the University, one being for the Long Vacation XI, shortly before he left Ireland for Burma.

He had numerous scores in the 30s and 40s, ability, perhaps taking second place to impetuosity. However in 1895, in the University's four first-class matches, the first played by an Irish side, his flair was seen to advantage. In the second innings of the first match, against MCC, he hit 80, the first Irish first class fifty, putting on 113 for the 3rd wicket with JH Brunskill, the first Irish first class century stand. In the final match of the four, when Cambridge came to College Park, he made a more than usually careful and cultured 130 with fourteen 4s. "By far the best cricket from Dublin," said Wisden, " came from AP Gwynn." In between these two matches he hit his highest score 145 (twenty-two 4s) v Leinster in College Park. His last score of note for the club was 102 v Phoenix in his last summer.

For Ireland he played 7 times and averaged just under 30. Only once was he dismissed for a single figure score. He began at Portsmouth against the Combined Services scoring 34. It was, however typical of his approach to the game that he should be content with 38 v a mediocre I Zingari attack in 1894, but in the same season top scored with 62 against South Africa in a dominating innings when his colleagues failed. He signed off for Ireland with 57 at 4 v MCC at Rathmines in 1896, again the attack was such that a higher score might have been forthcoming. 1897 was his last summer in Ireland.

He had completed a brilliant academic career, Scholar and double first, the previous year. He was now training for his career in the Indian Civil Service. He left Irish cricket in some style, 98 for Na Shuler V Cork County at the Mardyke and 124 for the Long Vacation v Co Galway at the Meldon family's ground at Athenry, are his last innings for which records have been found.

He was furthermore the second of seven men to captain both the Cricket and Rugby Clubs: the others being Robert Traill, Harry Read, Larry Warke and Gerry Murphy all of whom represented Ireland, at cricket Traill doing so in odds matches as well as classic left hander Bill Moynan whose poor fielding was said to have denied him a cap and Rhodesian medic Percy Sang a medical student from - as it then was - Rhodesia in 1958. A brilliant half back Arthur gained his sole Irish cap as a wing v Wales at the Arms Park in 1894-95. Ireland lost by a goal to a try, all 3 matches that season ending in defeat.

In the autumn of 1897 he went to Burma on his first ICS tour of duty. He was quickly involved in cricket there, making 2 hundreds and several other good scores. In January, he batted at 3 for Civil v Military at Rangoon, one of a series of what were the main matches of the season. Batting first wicket down in a high scoring draw, he made 112, before being caught by HR Troup, the other centurion of the match, who took his own life some weeks later. Tragically he was not the only one to die. Arthur wrote home to his father on 25 January 1898 "I hope your good health continues. I am flourishing myself."

Alas he was not. By the time his letter reached Dublin, he was dead. He ignored a tooth abscess until septicaemia set in. In considerable pain and with a high fever, Arthur asked his doctor - an Army officer whose signature, unfortunately, is quite illegible, to accompany him to the dentist when he had the offending tooth removed. This was done but, seeing that Arthur was still very ill, the doctor took to his own house, the better to monitor his condition. However the poison from the abscess had already spread through his body. Arthur lived for the next two days, delirious and in great pain. He died in the early hours of 14 February. "An awful warning," wrote a niece some 70 years later, "to sportsmen not to be too heroic about toothache."

His obituary is in the recently published Volume 16 of Scores and Biographies.

I am indebted to Tevor West (editor) Dublin University Football Club. 150 Years of Trinity Rugby 1854-2004 for details of the Unversity's Rugby captains.
I am also indebted to the researches of Ms Siobhan Kelly which have unearthed the full facts about Arthur Gwynn's death.