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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Thomas Ormsby Jameson
  • Born 4 April 1892 Clonsilla, Co Dublin
  • Died 6 February 1965 St Michael's Nursing Home, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin
  • Educated Harrow School
  • Occupation Army Officer
  • Debut 4 June 1928 v West Indies at College Park
  • Cap Number 337
  • Style Right hand bat, leg break bowler
  • Teams Phoenix, Na Shuler,Hampshire, MCC, Army, Combined Services, Gentlemen, SB Joel's XI, Lord Tennyson's XI

Tom Jameson was a splendidly attacking all round cricketer. Standing six foot four and massively built, he was a stylish, strong wristed middle order batsman with all the strokes. A wildly inaccurate "cafeteria" fast bowler at school, he thereafter changed his method, becoming a very good leg spinner. His old Hampshire colleague, HLV (Harry) Day recalled in a Wisden article in 1962 that Tom was, "A technically perfect bowler..... constantly probing a batsman's weakness or playing upon his indulgences."

He came from a family of Scots descent, but long established among the Anglo-Irish ascendancy. He was directly descended from that John Jameson, who having learned his trade from his father-in-law John Haig, founded a distillery in Dublin in the first half of the 17th century. Thereafter, the Jamesons, as well as producing whiskey, became known as a military family, and, from the 19th century, were much involved in cricket. Tom himself had a double cricketing pedigree, as his mother was Maria Hone, sister of William Hone, jnr, always regarded as the best batsman in that renowned family.

At Harrow, Tom was two years in the XI, taking part - on the losing side - in the famous "Fowler's Match" of 1910, when his childhood friend Bob Fowler of Co Meath rescued Eton, with bat and ball, from a seemingly impossible position, to record a remarkable victory. As Bob's huge off breaks turned square to bowl Eton to triumph, Tom, almost alone, stood firm against him. Opening the batting, in unaccustomedly defensive mood, he was ninth out, as Harrow chased a paltry 55 to win. Tom, who had been an hour before scoring a run, finished with two! Eton won by 9 runs.

His first class career began in 1919, and finished, in India, in 1938. His military duties meant that he could never play regularly, his best season being 1925 when he scored 599 runs at 26.04 with one 100 and four 50s. In all first class cricket, he scored 4675 runs at 26.56 with five centuries, besides taking 252 wickets at 24.03. He was also a reliable slip fieldsman. His first class career included a somewhat bizarre incident while he was batting for MCC v Kent at Lord's in May 1920. During his first innings he retired hurt for treatment as sawdust had blown into his eyes. He later returned to make 49* and susbsequently took a then career best 6-35 in the county's second innings.

Three of his centuries were scored in England. The first, in 1921, was 119 for the Army v Royal Navy at Lord's. As he also had five wickets, he could claim to have had a good match against the sailors and contributed well to their defeat. He also had a good all round match for Hampshire that season, playing under the imaginative, if sometimes highly eccentric, captaincy of Hon (later Lord) Lionel Tennyson, a man of similar size to Tom but with a somewhat over fondness for the product of Tom's family business, to say nothing of the card table. In the match in question, Tom took 6-80, before, coming in too low at 8, he smashed his way to 84, before being bowled by fellow "leggie" Percy Fender. Rain then brought the game to a premature conclusion. He also had a fine all round match for Combined Services against Essex the following summer, though he was unable to prevent a five wicket defeat. With scores of 54 and 63, he was the Services' leading batsman; figures of 5-61 and 2-68 made him the leading bowler also. He also, again at 8, made 103 for Hampshire in an innings win over Warwickshire in 1926 and 105* in the second innings against Somerset in 1926. Hampshire had trailed by 149 but Tom put on 112 for the 4th wicket with all rounder George Brown then an unbroken 109 for the 5th with fellow military man, and future MCC Secretary Ronnie Aird for the 5th to ensure the draw.

As a bowler, Tom had eleven "5 fors", twice taking 7 in an innings. His best return was 33.5 - 6 - 92 - 7 against a strong Lancashire batting line up in 1925. He was often seen at his best on the four overseas tours he made, presumably because he was able to play regularly. Thus with Bertie Joel's side in South Africa in 1924-25, a team which was effectively England's 2nd XI - the "firsts" were busy losing the Ashes 4-1, he came second in the batting averages with 430 first class runs at 39.09 besides taking 14 wickets. Tennyson, captaining the side, gave him a fair run with the bat, but rather ignored his leg spin. Tom made his best first class score 133 in a drawn match with Orange Free State, and, in minor match v XV of Northern Districts took 12-37. Four "Tests" were played against the full South African team, he made 53* in the rain affected final match. He was also to the fore in the MCC tour of the West Indies the following winter. The hosts had not yet reached Test status, but were still a formidable opposition. Tom was third in the averages with 536 runs at 41.32, trailing the young Wally Hammond and Yorkshire opener Percy Holmes. He made 93 in the drawn "First Test", putting on 188 for the 6th wicket with Hammond (238*) and 110 in the penultimate match of the tour v Jamaica. Hammond, however, had somewhat mixed fortunes, almost dying as a result of a mystery ailment, contracted - according to David Foot's excellent biography of the great batsman - because he caught rather more than slip catches during his Caribbean sojourn!

In 1926-27, Tom was able to tour again with MCC, this time to South America under the captaincy of veteran skipper PF Warner, in his element on this sort of occasion. Tom had two hundreds in non-first class matches and 10 wickets in the match in the "Second Test" v Argentina. The team's bowling strength lay in the spin of Tom and England left armer "Farmer" White and the pace of a young "Gubby" Allen and Lord Dunglass. The latter, later to be better known as Sir Alec Douglas-Home, played a few matches for Middlesex and, is surely the only man to have had the dubious distinction of shaking hands with both Adolf Hitler and this writer!

Ten years were to elapse before Tom made another, and final, tour. This was with Tennyson's privately raised, but powerful, side in India. Tennyson, worn down though he was by incipient alcoholism and gambling debts, thought it the most enjoyable tour he had ever made. Bill Edrich was the batting success, but Tom had a miserable time. Though he made a fifty in the opening - minor - match he played only six first class games scoring 83 runs at 11.85. It is to be assumed that he was often ill, perhaps having the same problem as Surrey fast bowler Alf Gover who was wont to startle opposition batsmen on this tour, by, having come in off a 30 yard run, rushing past the umpire, the batsman and slip cordon, never stopping until he had reached the sanctuary of the small chamber at the back of the dressing room. For Tom, however, it was a sad end to a distinguished first class career.

He had always, when available, been involved in Irish cricket, playing for Phoenix and Na Shuler before World War 1 and making a few League appearances for the north Dublin club in the 1920s and 1930s. He was one of three rather strange selections to play for Ireland v Scotland at Rathmines in August 1921, the others being Fowler and CS Marriott. Marriott. who had just played for Cambridge University v Dublin University in College Park was presumably deemed to have been qualified as he had been at school at Armagh Royal and St Columba's. It was hardly likely that either Tom or Fowler, as serving army officers would have played as the game was staged just eight weeks after the tragic events at the Military of Ireland match in College Park, even though the Truce which was to lead to the establishment of the Irish Free State was now in force. Marriott began a match for Lancashire against Essex on what was the third day at Rathmines. Unfortunately, Tom was only able to play twice for Ireland, more than justifying his selection on both occasions.

In 1926, he joined the side to play Oxford university in The Parks. Play began late because of uncertain Irish travel arrangements, and was later severely restricted by rain. Ireland batted first and were 71-2 when Tom came to the wicket. He made a typical 71, with 11 fours, somewhat riding his luck, but taking control of the match. He was eventually caught in the deep off South African medium pacer Louis Serrurier, a double blue, who also played for Worcestershire. Tom then struck a length with his spinners and had taken four wickets, when the first rain came. This made the ball difficult to grip and reduced his effectiveness. Neither side had a second innings.

His second and last appearance for his country was in the famous 1928 victory over the Windies in College Park. The left hander George McVeagh will always be remembered as the hero of the game, but several others, not the least of them Tom, played key roles also. Ireland batted first but, despite a good stand between the captain Jim Ganly and opener Arthur Robinson were 100-4 when Tom joined Ganly. The board quickly read 100-6 then Tom took charge. Making what Ganly, writing nearly fifty years later, called "A very fine 45 not out", he took charge of the tourists bowling, and, helped by last man Tom Dixon, one of Ireland's better no 11s, took the score to 173 all out. He was later to take 3 first innings wickets including two return catches, one of which has been described as "magnificent." With two more wickets in the visitors run chase, his part in the win was no little one.

In the late 1930s, Tom was seen again in Na Shuler cricket. The wandering side was reborn though in a different age, it was a very different type of side. Nevertheless, as war again drew near, the old Cork tour was revived. After narrowly missing a half century against Cork County in 1936, he made 95 in the following year's match, before being bowled by Derrick Hall. 40s followed again in the last two years before the Shulers again went into abeyance. It is, perhaps, worth noting, that in these last matches of Tom's of which scores have been seen, he scored 232 runs at 38.66, not a bad way in which to have signed off. Also in the Shulers' side in 1939 was Tom's 15 year old son Shane. Unable to continue his education at Harrow because of the war, Shane was in the XI at St Columba's before being a leading batsman at Dublin University in 194. The following season saw him gain a war time Blue at Cambridge en route for the Irish Guards. An occasional Phoenix player he later played much Army cricket and represented MCC v Ireland at Lord's in 1949. In the 1950s, he was still to be found playing for The Leprechauns.

Tom was also a fine rackets player being Army Champion in 1922, 1923 and 1924. He was also an outstanding squash player Amateur Champion in 1922 and 1923. His obituary is in Wisden 1966 and, despite having only played twice for Ireland, he is deservedly featured in Siggins and Fitzgerald "Ireland's 100 Cricket Greats."