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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Henry Randolph Morgan
  • Born 6 July 1907 Ballynafeigh, Belfast
  • Died 9 August 1987 Belfast
  • Educated Belfast Royal Academy
  • Occupation Manager
  • Debut 27 July 1931 v Scotland at College Park
  • Cap Number 385
  • Style Right hand bat; right arm medium fast
  • Teams Ulster CC; North Down; NICC; Muckamore; Eglinton

Henry Morgan was the sixth son of the eight boys and three girls born to their parents Richard Morgan, a draper, and his Cork born wife, Eileen. The three youngest boys showed a particular talent for cricket, with Henry and his immediate junior Stanley both being capped for Ireland while Reginald - always known as Reggie - a fine bowler, might well have been had it not been for the War which claimed his life in Normandy, one day after the D Day landings. All three honed their cricket skills at BRA with Henry and Stanley both being seen in the ranks of the Ulster Club while still at school.

Henry was an excellent medium fast bowler. Though short of top pace, he was a hostile performer with the new ball, always accurate and, on wet wickets, lethal. Like some of the greatest of his kind, for example Alec Bedser and Maurice Tate, he preferred to have his wicket keeper standing up. He was not easy to take so this was a task which required skill and courage, the latter especially noteworthy in an era before the keeper donned a helmet under such circumstances. He also resembled Bedser in possessing a devastating leg cutter.

Always one for the big occasion, Henry was often seen at his best in the NCU Cup Final. If the one day war time game he played for Muckamore against Woodvale in 1941 is included, he appealed in five such matches for four different sides, taking 26 wickets at 13.23. Thus for Ulster in two finals, the first successful, against North Down in 1930 and 1931, he took 13 wickets for 133 runs. In the former year he made a big contribution towards victory by bowling James Macdonald, before the elegant left hander had scored, and, later, removing dangerous lower order man Jack Dearden. When the Comber side batted again, he had Albert Anderson for 0. The following season, when North Down wreaked ample revenge, he continued his flair for removing key batsmen for low scores by having TJ Macdonald for 11, and getting Willie Andrews leg before for 0.

By 1932, Ulster having folded Henry and Stanley were with the Co Down side. Inevitably they reached the final where they defeated Bobby Barnes Armagh by 5 wickets. Henry struck a useful 15 in the first innings of a low scoring match, having already taken 3-41 when Armagh had batted first. His bowling in their second innings was, however, crucial. He took 5-51 vital as North Down then struggled to make the 107 needed to record another cup triumph. His last two appearances in a final were not so spectacular. However he once more took vital wickets. Captaining NICC, to which he and Stanley - joined by youngest brother Reggie - had moved against Donacloney in 1938, he took only one wicket, at a cost of 23, but it was the wicket of Donacloney opener and king pin Lloyd Armstrong without a run on the board. The Morgan family - or rather its junior member - played the key part in the match with Reggie having a match return of 10/84. Henry was, it should be remembered captain of North from 1937 to 1940.

His last cup final appearance came in 1941. The two innings format was in abeyance and the Challenge Cup itself was not presented in the war years, but he once more led his side's attack with success. That side was now Muckamore against whom he had already played that season for a powerful Army team. Besides Reggie, he was joined by Hedley Verity, prince of left armers who, like Reggie was not tom survive the war, Norman Yardley, future captain of Yorkshire and England, and HD "Hopper" Read, a bowler of some pace, with one Test cap to his name. Read owed his nickname to a peculiar run up. Muckamore had made several reinforcements, the batting being boosted by Tom McMurray and David Pigot (The First), while the bowling had Charlie Billingsley to offer a speed approaching Hopper's and spin from Jack Bowden and Jimmy Boucher, the only slow men in Ireland at the time who could approach Verity in class. The match ended in a draw with Verity taking 4-60, Read sending a bail halfway to the boundary with two successive balls, and Yardley contributing an undefeated 60.

None of the supporting cast, of course, was available for the final, when Muckamore faced Woodvale at Ormeau and went down to a heavy defeat. However Henry, opening the attack with Reggie, had 3-66, continuing his penchant for dismissing the best by including George Wilson among them.

Following good form for Ulster, Henry made his debut for Ireland against Scotland in College Park in 1931. His bowling opportunities in this game, which Ireland won by 72 runs were limited. He opened the bowling in the first innings but sent down only five overs, while in the second, he did not come on until second change with spinners Boucher and Macdonald being given preference. However he still played his part in Ireland's win taking 2-27. Oddly both his victims were South African born, Kenneth Walker, a Scottish Rugby International and the leg spinning all rounder Douglas Hiddleston.

By far his best match, however, was the corresponding fixture two years later. Played on a muddy Ormeau wicket this was a low scoring game resulting in a narrow win for the hosts. Henry, perhaps benefiting from having Arthur Douglas as captain, took a major role in the victory. Ireland began by being bowled out for 159, of which 32 came in a last wicket stand between Henry and Boucher. The Phoenix man blocked while Henry lambasted the attack making a quick 23 before he tried one big blow too many. Opening the bowling, he began by removing the top three in the order including that perennial thorn in Ireland's flesh, "Wee John" Kerr, whose skill was badly needed in such adverse conditions.

Using his devastating leg cutter to good effect, Henry returned later in the innings to wrap up the tail, taking 4 of the last 5 wickets for 15. He finished with the telling figures of 29 - 15 - 41 - 7. Later in the season he had another five wicket haul against MCC at Lord's at a cost of 52. Here his bag included Guy Earle, a well known amateur cricketer, who had been the losing captain in the famous " Fowler's Match " of 1910, DJ Knight a classic stroke maker who had played twice for England against Warwick Armstrong's all powerful Australians in 1921 and "Monty" Garland Wells, an Oxford Blue and England amateur goalkeeper, who later captained Surrey. The match, which was badly affected by rain - as the Scots match had been - ended in a draw. It was marred by the tragic injury to Arthur Douglas, which was ultimately to prove fatal.

Henry was not an ever present in the Irish side thereafter, and, when he did play often found, yet again that Boucher with his off spin, or Eddie Ingram with his all sorts, tended to gain a share of the new ball with Billingsley, while he had a handful of overs later in the innings. He finished with two Test players to add to his collection. Against the Australians at Ormeau in a one day match in 1938, he had their wicket keeper and useful batsman Ben Barnett, who a few weeks earlier had missed stumping Len Hutton en route to 364. Len was then on 40.

Henry's last match was also the last one played by Ireland before war broke out. Played against Sir Julien Cahn's XI - on his private ground in Nottingham - the second of two games with the millionaire's squad of mercenaries and gifted amateurs that summer, it took place in glorious weather in an unreal atmosphere as German troops massed on the Polish border. With both sides making full use of ideal batting conditions, there was never the prospect of a definite result, but Henry, who finished with 2-59, was able to his second Test man. This was wicket keeper batsman Paul Gibb who had made a rapid 114. The previous winter in South Africa, Gibb had made 93 and 106 in the First Test and another 120 in the monumentally boring and notorious "Timeless Test" at Durban at the end of the series.