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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Charles I Raynor
  • Born circa 1894 Co Kerry
  • Died 15 May 1966 Ards Hospital, Newtownards, Co Down
  • Educated
  • Occupation Police Officer
  • Debut 9 August 1926 v MCC at Ormeau
  • Cap Number 352
  • Style Left hand bat, slow left arm.
  • Teams Armagh, NICC, Donaghadee

Charlie Raynor was the elder of two sons in the large family of Dublin born Samuel Raynor and his English wife Ellen. At the time of the 1911 Census, Samuel was Chief Warden at Armagh Gaol, where the 16 year old Charlie worked as a dentist's assistant. He later sought a more lucrative position becoming a police officer.

Charlie, the cricketer, was left handed in both disciplines. A very occasional slow left armer, who took seven wickets in his entire career for Armagh, he was a vigorous left hand batsman in the upper order who, until the end of his career, believed that a cricket ball existed for one purpose only, to be hit as hard as possible. While this approach made Charlie one of the most exciting batsmen in the NCU to watch, it possibly led to rashness. Certainly his record for Armagh suggests that he rather under achieved and thus did not gain as many representative honours as his ability warranted.

He made his debut for Armagh in 1913, playing 5 matches without conspicuous success, but the following year, he was a regular in the side, playing in 9 of the 12 senior matches and heading the averages at 27.84. His highest innings was a typically robust 78 - out of a total of 124 - which led to a narrow victory in a closely fought encounter with Holywood. He also made a highly praised 35* against Lisburn at Wallace Park. It was no fault of his that Armagh ended their last pre war season second from bottom in the League.

His occupation and the problems facing the new state of Northern Ireland meant that his appearances in the immediate post war years were strictly limited, but he was back as a regular in 1922. Unsurprisingly he did not have a good season but hit a sparkling 52* against North Down.

He settled into the side as a regular in the upper middle order, often competing with Wilfred McDonough at the top of the averages. Wilfred's sounder methods usually held sway, while from the late 1920s onwards their joint supremacy was challenged by the all rounder Bobby Barnes, who was more of Charlie's way of thinking about batsmanship, but a better player.

Charlie's most spectacular season was 1927, when, had not fate intervened, he might have set all kinds of records and added to his solitary Irish cap, gained the previous summer. His season began against Cregagh at The Mall. Armagh won by 7 wickets with Charlie undefeated on 46. This was followed by a low scoring victory at Queen's Island. Low scoring that is for everybody bar Charlie, who dominated the match with a belligerent 88. He then made 55* in a 5 wicket victory at Banbridge, before Waringstown came to The Mall for the Local Derby in early June. Charlie rose to the occasion with his first century for the club - 109*, the highest for Armagh since the war. A Cup Match back at Queen's Island was next on the agenda with Charlie raising his season's total to 400 runs by making exactly a century and remaining undefeated. He had now made 266 runs without being dismissed in 5 successive innings. His average stood at 200.00.

Then family matters intervened. Samuel Raynor died and Charlie missed several matches. When he returned his form had deserted him. He only scored 25 runs in the entire rest of the season, though he still finished with an average of 53.12. His two successive hundreds remain - at he time of writing April 2010 - a unique achievement for Armagh. His one Irish cap came against MCC at Ormeau in 1926. The Irish selectors clearly wanted to attract a local gate and chose a very different side from that which had played the visitors in Dublin, though the team was captained by Sir George Colthurst of Blarney Castle and Cork County. It was weakened by seven of the original side crying off. Charlie was one of the seven new cap late replacements, all of whom, bar one, never played for Ireland again. The match, which was rain affected, ended in a draw, with Charlie having only one innings.

If the selectors' plan was to put local talent on view, they cannot not have made this clear to Sir George, for Charlie, one of the most popular and spectacular players in the NCU area, found himself at No 8 in the order, with at least two inferior batsmen, including the captain, placed above him. He was bowled for 0 by fast medium bowler Desmond Roberts in Ireland's total of 218. Roberts had a long career, mostly in club cricket; though he played several first class matches for MCC and a few for Surrey. He also appeared for Hollywood (USA under the captaincy of veteran actor Sir C Aubrey Smith) and stayed in the game long enough to captain MCC v Ireland at Lord's in 1947. For Charles Raynor there was to be no recall to the national side, though he continued to play for Armagh until 1939. He scored 3640 runs at 20.56; his two hundreds of 1927 remaining his only three figure scores. He also played briefly for NICC and long after his retirement from The Mall turned out for Donaghadee after their foundation in 1951. His son Gordon and his daughter Hazel's son later followed him into the side. Though now approaching 60, his attitude to the game had not changed. In one match a bowler paused in his run up because Charlie was leaning on his bat - something he always did.

"Are you ready?" asked the bowler.

"Yes," replied Charlie.

The bowler began his approach again but stopped once more as Charlie was still leaning on his bat.

He was again assured that Charlie was ready.

He ran in again, no doubt muttering under his breath that old men should not be still playing.

Charlie hit the ball out of the ground for 6.

"I told you I was ready," he said.