CricketEurope Irish Cricket History logo
Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Handfield Brunskill
  • Born 17 April 1875 Dublin
  • Died 21 July 1940, Lincoln, England
  • Educated Rathmines School, Dublin University
  • Occupation Doctor in RAMC retired as Lieutenant-Colonel
  • Debut 23 May 1895 v MCC at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 227
  • Style Left-hand Bat, right-arm medium
  • Teams Dublin University, Phoenix, Madras

Jack Brunskill was a tall, forcing, upper order batsman, who, though the straight and off drive were his most productive strokes, never forgot the mantra of veteran DUCC coach Jesse Richards, basing his technique on sound back play. As a bowler, he was, in good company, never more than a medium pace change option. After a successful career at Rathmines School, he was a fixture in the University XI from 1894 until 1899, being captain in his last season. Thereafter, though he turned out spasmodically, his final years as a medical student claimed him. He was a consistent, rather than heavy, scorer, there is no record of his having scored a century while at University.

He did, however play in the University's four first class matches in 1895, the first such games played by an Irish team. In the inaugural fixture v MCC in College Park, he made 58 in the scond innings, putting on 113 for the third wicket with Arthur Gwynn, the first century partnership in first class cricket by Irish batsmen. In the remaining three matches, he was less successful, though he was run out for 25 at Leicester, when just getting into his stride. His first class figures of 134 runs at 16.75 suggest that he was short of the class needed to succeed at this level. Nor was he successful in his only match for Ireland, against MCC, played at Rathmines just after the University fixture in 1895. Batting at 3, he was dismissed for a pair by JT Hearne.

Obtaining his MB in 1902, he was commisioned in the RAMC, but remained in Dublin until 1904. His final appearace for a University team was in 1904, for the Long Vacation XI, a side which bothered little about qualifications. With 53 and 81* against Phoenix, he went out in some style.Later that year, he went to India and stationed in Secunderabad, scored over a thousand runs in his first season. He was thus qualified to play for the Madras Presidency in the annual fixture with Ceylon. Over the New Year holiday period, in Chepauk Madras, he turned in a remarkable performance, which suggests that, either he had become a greatly improved player. or that the opposition was very weak indeed. Batting first, Madras totalled 451 Brunskill (116) was one of centurions. Another, fellow DUCC man JT Gwynn (103) wrote home that "It was a massacre of the innocents." This was even more evident when Ceylon batted. Brunskill opened the bowling, and, having rarely bowled more than a few overs in "big" matches, returned figures of 23-3-76-6. In the second innings he hardly bowled, presumably a New Year gift to Ceylon.

No further records of his having played major cricket have been found, but he certainly continued to be active at club level when military duties allowed. He was back in Dublin 1912-1914, but did not appear with any regularity. During the War, he was in the thick of some of the heaviest fighting often commanding field hospitals under dangerous conditions. He was awarded the DSO in 1917, and in 1919, won the OBE for "actions in military operations" in Mesopotamia. He was promoted Lieutenant - Colonel when the conflict was over, and, on retirement maintained his cricket interest, besides playing tennis - always an interest - and took up golf. His military career is set out in stages in Who Was Who 1931-1940.