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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Roland Henry Shortt
  • Born 7 August 1898 Dublin
  • Died 6 August 1963 Dublin
  • Educated The High School, Dublin.
  • Occupation Dentist
  • Debut 4 August 1934 v MCC at College Park.
  • Cap Number 397
  • Style Right hand bat; right arm medium pace.
  • Teams Pembroke, Merrion, YMCA

Rollie Shortt, the second of three children of John Shortt, a land agent and his wife Adeline, was an accurate and highly successful bowler in Leinster cricket for over thirty years. He might well have gained more than his solitary Irish cap and still sits high in the all time LCU bowling averages.

He learned his cricket at Dublin High School, then housed in its rather austere buildings in Harcourt Street. Perhaps better known for its rugby footballers, the names of multi cap prop Phil Orr and scrum half John Robbie spring to mind, and its connection with the Arts, WB Yeats and Norman Rodway for example, "HSD" has, nevertheless, always been a good cricket school, thus Rollie had little difficulty in establishing himself in men's' cricket.

Originally the Land Commission CC, Merrion had been playing under its present name since 1909 and, by 1914, had ceased to be a closd club. Rollie, first appearing for the club during the war years, became a prominent wicket taker in the Intermediate League in the early 1920s, and, together with players such as Jack O'Donnell and the fine uncapped all rounder Cecil Little. Little, father of Alan off spinner and Club historian, was responsible for lifting Merrion to senior status. An outstanding bowler of swing and cut at just above medium pace, his skills honed by long hours of practice often after dark, he was known as a "difficult man" and twice left the club, to play senior cricket for Pembroke in 1922 and again to play for YMCA in 1949. However he always returned and of his 720 senior wickets in competitive cricket, 701 were taken for Merrion at 13.65. THe first Merrion bowler to each landmark between 100 and 700 wickets, he took 5 or more wickets in an innings on 58 occasions with three eight wicket hauls, his best being 8-18 against Civil Service in 1936. He also had a 9 wicket haul, including the hat trick in an early season friendly against Pembroke in 1933. The missing wicket was a runout! When his performances in minor cricket are added in, he took over 1200 wickets in competitive matches.

A "one cap wonder" for Ireland his chance came against MCC in College Park in August 1934. This was the second match played between the two sides that year, the first, a two day affair at Sion Mills, had been left drawn with honours fairly even. In Dublin, however, Ireland were outplayed, with only the bowling of Jimmy Boucher in the first innings and Rollie in the second, making for any parity between the sides. At No 11, Rollie had an unhappy time with the bat, being dismissed for a pair, though he was far from the only batsman to fail. MCC racked up a first innings lead of over 130, thanks to a brilliant hundred by New Zealand Test player Roger Blunt, who had a highest first class score of 338* which he had made for Otago v Canterbury three years earlier.

Blunt's score came despite fine off spin bowling by Boucher who took 6-87. Eventually the visitors required only 53 to win. They lost three wickets in the process despite some very good bowling by Rollie who, bowling unchanged with "JCB" had figures of 8 - 2 - 22 - 3. victims were, South African all rounder Denys Morkel, who had played with success in 16 Tests before throwing his lot in with Sir Julian Cahn, an Army officer Errol Tremlett, in of his only two first class matches, and future Oxford Blue Brian Belle, who was making his first class debut. Belle was later to captain Suffolk in the Minor County Counties Championship for several seasons. All were clean bowled.

Roland Henry Shortt was never again to "pull on an irish jersey" but he remained a force in Dublin cricket for another 20 years. It has been suggested that he would have won many more caps for Ireland but for his amply proportioned figure which made him rather cumbersome in the field.