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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Wellesley Flood
  • Born 3 November 1883 Yorke Town, South Australia
  • Died 3 November 1929 Rabual, New Guinea
  • Educated St Peter's College, Adelaide; Rossall; Dublin University
  • Occupation Doctor
  • Debut 22 July 1909 v Scotland North Inch Perth
  • Cap Number 267
  • Style Right hand batsman; right arm fast medium.
  • Teams Dublin University

John Flood, the first of three Australian born cricketers to play for Dublin University and Ireland in the era before the First World War, was a hard hitting, but largely unsuccessful lower order batsman and a good fast medium bowler, who was described by Pat Hone, his contemporary in the University XI as, "One of our stock bowlers, always to be relied on to keep going, somewhat up and down perhaps, but with some nip off the pitch."

He was the second son and third child of Dr JW Flood, a Dublin University graduate who had emigrated to Australia, but who died when John was only a few months old. He was educated at St Peter's College, Adelaide which straight talking Australian fast bowler Ernie Jones told Edward VII that he (Jones) attended regularly, "With my dust cart." John was two years in both the 1st XI and 1st XV, captaining the latter. He was also a fine tennis player and athlete. He then attended a crammer's, before entering Dublin University as a medical student in 1904. He was a regular member of the Ist XI from 1906 - 1909, when, having qualified, he returned to Australia.

In those four seasons, he took 143 wickets at 14.95, bowling 877 overs in the process. His haul might suggest that he was rather more than a stock bowler, but, as Hone also applied this term to prolific wicket taker Wentworth Allen, it may be assumed to refer to one who could bowl a long spell without flagging. John's best season was his first, when his 39 wickets cost 12.40. Over his batting, it is, perhaps better to draw a veil. His most prolific season was also that first one, when he amassed 130 runs at 7.20.

He made two appearances for the University in three day matches, both on their tour of 1908. Against Warwickshire on a hard and fast wicket at Rugby he made 15 at No 10, being dismissed by pace bowling all rounder Crowther Charlesworth, who took six wickets in the innings. John, himself, took two county wickets for 27, those of James Byrne, a good all rounder and former England Rugby full back and captain, and slow medium left armer Sam Hargreave, in his last season with the county. Rain prevented a second innings. Moving on to Fenner's, the team were beaten by an innings by Cambridge University. John had 1-39, taking the wicket of David Burton, a useful batsman, who was to captain Yorkshire in the first three post war seasons. "He was a good captain," said Wilfred Rhodes, "he did what he was told." David was also a Rugby Blue and a noted sprinter. John failed with the bat making 2 and 0.

His one outing for Ireland came against Scotland at North Inch Perth, an attractive if somewhat exposed ground, in July 1909. This was a historic match as, not only was it the first meeting between the two sides since 1890, but it also marks the beginning of first class cricket in this long series. Unfortunately, Ireland, well below strength, were outplayed, losing by an innings and 132 runs. John came into the side as a replacement and had figures of 0-27 in five overs. Unless he was suffering from an injury, it would seem that captain Frank Browning underbowled him.

He made rather more of a contribution with the bat. In the first innings his 9th wicket stand of 32 with Bill Harrington, was the second highest of the innings. Bill, a far better batsman than he, himself allowed, making 28, while John reached 16 before being bowled by David Chance a fast medium bowler, who was to die only three years later. In the second knock, John was out for 9 to the left arm medium pacer William Frazer. In contrast to Chance, Frazer was to live until 1968.

In July 1907, while still a medical student, John married Rose Elise Coombes in a London registry office. She was to remain with him throughout the remainder of his somewhat varied life, but they had no children.

That season marked the end of John Wellesley Flood's participation in Irish cricket. He practised medicine in New Guinea, before enlisting in the medical corps of the Australian Army in 1914. Rising to the rank of major, he was, however, one of the two medical officers on board the SS Matunga in 1917, when, on a voyage from Sydney to New Guines in 1917 it was captured and sunk by the German raider Wolf. All passengers and crew were held on the Wolf for seven months, others being added later. The officers, including presumably, others were not so lucky. John and Rose, were granted special privileges. Despite an apparent understanding that the Wolf would dock in neutral Denmark and that all would be released they were taken to the German naval base at Kiel, where they were visited by the Kaiser's younger brother.

At the end of the War, John worked for some time in field hospitals in England and France, before returning to Australia. Now a Lieutenant-Colonel, he then returned, accompanied by Rose, to Rabual, where, after leaving the Army, he set up in private practice. He became widely respected, particularly for his knowledge of malaria and other tropical conditions. He continued to be admired for his cricket and tennis prowess and also developed a keen interest in horse racing, which may possibly explain why - at the time of his death from a heart condition, he was said to have considerable debts. He was buried in Rabual, after which Rose returned to England. John Wellesley Flood will be remembered but, more importantly as a man who was highly respected in his profession, for his work and skill, often in the most difficult circumstances.

NBs

1 A diary of the voyages of the Matunga and Wolf was kept by a 15 year old Matunga crew member Keith Harris. A google search for SS Matunga will reveal it and several other interesting items.

2 I am indebted to Gerard Siggins who initially provided me with details of Flood's war record and of his revised date of death. I am also greatly indebted to Andrea McKinnon-Matthews, Archivist of St Peter's College for providing the details of Flood's date of birth and further vital biographical details.

3 Some of the confusion over the details of Flood's dates of birth and death have arisen from the fact that his cousin, also John Wellesley Flood was a medical student in Dublin University at the same time. He was born in 1884 in Dublin and practised in Liverpool but apears to have been in Australia at the time of his death in 1934. To add to any biographer's problems, yet another John Wellesley Flood was born in Australia in 1909 and died in 1984.