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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Peter Clarke
  • Born 19 May 1881, Paddington London
  • Died 14 December 1915, Dublin
  • Occupation Professional Cricketer
  • Debut 25 July 1912 v South Africans Woodbrook Bray
  • Cap Number 282
  • Style Right-hand bat, Right-arm breaks and googlies
  • Teams Woodbrook, SH Cochrane's XI, Middlesex

Peter Clarke is one of the mystery men of Irish and English cricket. Unheard of until he joined Stanley Cochrane's staff at Woodbrook he did not play in many of the major matches there and, when he did had only moderate success. His leg spin did benefit greatly from the coaching and advice of a fellow Woodbrook professional the great South African AEE - Ernie - Volger - a leading exponent of the googly - who, after the South African tour of 1907, had been regarded by the then England captain RE Foster as the best bowler in the world. However against the rather weak Indian touring side in 1911, he returned figures of 5 for 158 in the match. However it was on the strength of his Woodbrook performances that he was selected for the Test Trial of 1912, having never appeared in a County match. His side (The Rest) lost by an innings, he took just one wicket, albeit that of FR Foster.

He returned to Bray to play in the two matches against the South Africans, one for Woodbrook, the other, after Cochrane chose a side with little regard for qualification, for All Ireland, so styled to allow the professionals to play. Clarke's combined figures of 5 for 218 hardly justified the high opinions held of him. Cochrane did not use him in the Australian match in September when the near Test strength CB Fry's XI beat the tourists by 8 wickets. The other two home-based professionals played but not Clarke. Cochrane did not reopen his ground in 1913, but,with another curious twist Clarke won a place on the Middlesex staff. Over the next two seasons he played 11 matches for the county and five for MCC. HIs best first class figures - 5-62 - were achieved for the latter side against Kent at Lord's in 1913, when he included Frank Wooley among his haul. The following year, one day after the assassination of Archduke Franz Fredinand at Sarajevo, he took his best recorded figures in any class of cricket, having an analysis of 6-110 against Hertfordshire at St Albans. Clarke's obituary is in Wisden 1916.