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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Armstrong
  • Born circa 1905 Belfast
  • Educated
  • Occupation
  • Debut 24 July 1930 v Sir Julien Cahn's XI at Ormeau
  • Cap Number 371
  • Style Right hand batsman
  • Teams Holywood

John Armstrong was a useful upper order batsman for Holywood in the inter war years. However, as will be seen from the details above, not very much has been discovered about his life outside cricket. We would be very pleased to hear from anyone who can help with filling in the missing information above. Holywood had a fairly hard time during the period he played for them, though sometimes enjoyed a good cup run. in 1930, for example, they reached the Semi Finals before losing to North Down by 191 runs. In the first round Armagh had been defeated by 9 runs in a low scoring encounter at Holywood. The hosts owed much to John, who topscored with a solid 28 as his team-mates struggled against the leg spin of the 19 year old Bobby Barnes who had 4-47. Despite good knocks from Wilf McDonough and the potentially destructive Charlie Raynor, Armagh folded for 98. In a league match later in the season the result was reversed in a somewhat similar encounter when Armagh struggled to reach 105, but with John and his team-mates succumbing to leg spin once more, Holywood could only manage 77.

John's sole match for Ireland came in the same year against Sir Julien Cahn's XI at Ormeau. The two sides had met each other In Dublin but now the Irish selectors chose an almost completely different team, obviously aimed at attracting a local "gate." John was one of six new caps, all from the NCU area, only one of whom, Lisburn paceman Tommy Martin, ever played again.

Ireland batted first, John opening the batting with Dublin University and NICC batsman Bill Loughery, who was soon out. John remained until 24 runs were on the board, before giving a return catch to George Heane, a medium pace bowler and good all rounder who captained Nottinghamshire from 1935 to 1946. After that Ireland collapsed to the leg spin of Tom Richmond, who had played once for England v Australia in the disastrous - for the hosts - summer of 1921. He may not have been good enough to disturb Warwick Armstrong's Australians, but he was far too good for Ireland taking 6-41 as the home side was dismissed for 98. Cahn's XI began almost as badly but recovered to make 269 before Richmond struck again taking 4-52, including John who, on this occasion, came in at the fall of the 4th wicket. The visitors won by 10 wickets.

As already shown, John Armstrong did not play for Ireland again. In some ways this is unsurprising. There were better players than he available in the NCU who never got the call. However on the basis that one match is no way to test a cricketer's ability, he must be regarded as unlucky not to have played again.