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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
James Henry Aloysius Ryan
  • Born 15 September 1892, Riude, Nothamptonshire
  • Died 25 September 1915, Loos France.
  • Educated Downside
  • Occupation Army Officer
  • Debut 25 July 1912 v South African at Woodbrook.
  • Cap Number 284
  • Style Right-hand bat, right- arm fast medium
  • Teams RMC Sandhurst, Northamptonshire, Woodbrook

James Ryan was a magnificent all round sportsman at Downside, being captain of football and hockey as well as cricket. Also a talented actor, he easily won entrance to Sandhurst, where he again excelled in all three sports. As well as playing for Northamptonshire from 1911, albeit irregularly, he played Soccer and Hockey for the Army and found time to win the Offcers Half Mile at The Army Athletic Meeting in 1913.

It is unfortunate that his first-class cricket was not successful. He played 8 times for Northants 1911-1914, taking only 4 wickets at 34.00. A negligible batsman, he managed only 114 runs in all: 41 of them being scored in his final innngs in June 1914.

His selection for Ireland came about in 1912, due to Stanley Cochrane selecting the Irish team himself for the 1912 South African match. He was stationed in Ireland and scored 140* for 16th Division Irish Command against Na Shuler, his highest score of which a record has been found. In the South African match Ryan bowled three expensive overs and that ended his Irish career. He was dismissed twice (0 and 5) by the googly bowling all rounder, Aubrey Faulkner.

When war broke out he went straight to France in the British Expeditionary Force. He showed great leadership and courage, was awarded the Military Cross in January 1915 "for gallantry and great ability" and was promoted Captain. On September 1915, he was killed "in the big attack in the neighbourhood of Loos and Hill 70". A fellow officer wrote to Ryan's parents "I don't believe anyone else could have led his men across that terrible piece of ground, but they would follow him anywhere." His obituary is in Wisden 1916, but unfortunately confuses his school stating "He was not in the XI at Wellingborough Grammar School" which as he was he was at Downside is true but misleading!