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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
James Robert Graham
  • Born 11 August 1908 Rathmines Dublin
  • Died 14 January 1942 Dublin
  • Educated Synge Street CBS, Dublin
  • Occupation
  • Debut 1 August 1936 v Scotland at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh
  • Cap Number 400
  • Style Right hand bat; right arm off spin
  • Teams Leinster

Jim Graham was a very good off spinner, operating at around medium pace, who would undoubtedly have added to his total of seven Irish caps had be not been a contemporary of another practioner of the " offie" art, one JC Boucher. Nevertheless his figures for Leinster between 1925 and 1940, while they do not surpass those of Boucher for Phoenix, are remarkable enough in all conscience. He took 496 wickets at 11.35 in senior cricket in Dublin, with 43 "5 fors." He passed the 50 wicket in a season mark on four occasions and had a number of really outstanding performances which clearly prove his worth.

He first came to notice beyond Observatory Lane in 1927 when he had figures of 7-29 v Civil Service at Rathmines and 6-14 v Railway Union at Park Avenue. He achieved a career best 8-30 away against Clontarf in 1933 and the following season headed the LCU averages with 43 wickets at 8.44. He achieved a remarkable sequence of four successive matches that year taking 21 wickets at 2.76. This included another "8 for" against Clontarf, this time for 31 and 6-10 against Dublin University in College Park. He headed the provincial averages again in 1935 and 1937. The latter year was the first in which the O'Grady Cup was awarded but Jim despite having 52 wickets at 9.21 was not the recipient. This was because the Cup was then awarded for League matches only. Here JCB reigned supreme with an average of 7.60. However Jim was not to be denied the trophy. In 1939 took 47 wickets at 9.21, part of an almost clean sweep of the averages by Leinster men as JR Gill headed the batting to win the Marchant Cup, Charles Cuffe was the leading wicket keeper and Cecil Pemberton was one of three fielders to head the catching list with 20.

Jim also took a key part in the three Cup Finals Leinster played during his career. In 1936, Leinster were victorious, beating Merrion by 35 runs in a low scoring match. Leinster batted first but failed to make full use of this advantage being dismissed for 121. However if Merrion anticipated a simple they were soon disabused being bowled out for 86, Jim taking 5-29 to ensure the cup's destination. In 1939 Leinster, despite making a respectable 202 lost to Phoenix by 6 wickets. Jim had 3-77, however, or the margin of victory would, no doubt, have been higher. In his last season, 1940, he had played a leading part in bowling Leinster to the Final with Merrion once again their opponents. Leinster were again put out for 121, but this time, thanks to a fine 61 from Simon Curley, the Anglesea Road side won by three wickets. This defeat could not be laid at Jim's door as he had figures of 5-40.

His seven matches for Ireland played between 1936 and 1939 saw him take 14 wickets at 30.21 with a low economy rate. His best match was his debut against Scotland at Raeburn Place. He was one of only three Irish players, the others being Eddie Ingram and Charlie Billingsley who could take any satisfaction from a match in which Ireland were defeated by 214 runs. He opened the bowling with paceman Billingsley and, taking two wickets, helped the Woodvale man reduce the hosts to 48-5. Then all rounder Ben Tod (148*) and wicket keeper Alastair McTavish added 190, and, though Ingram wrapped up the tail and Jim took a further wicket to finish with 3-76, Ireland were never in the game again. Ireland collapsed in their first innings to such an extent that Jim's 12* was second highest score to Ingram's 28! He took 2-53 in Scotland's second innings but Ireland were outplayed. Wicketless against India in College Park, his next match was against MCC in College Park, a game which Ireland won as decisively as they had lost to Scotland. Bowling first change Jim sent down only 8 overs but took 2-18 to help Ireland to a 172 runs lead. His wickets included that of MCC opener Jack Mac Bryan former captain of Cambridge and Somerset in his final first class match. Jack, who had played one Test v South Africa in 1924 but had not batted, was a fine free scoring bat and was probably the "biggest" wicket of Jim's career.

Against Minor Counties at Rathmines in the following season, Jim again bowled accurately to help Ireland to another convincing win, taking one first innings wicket and two in the second. He was, perhaps, unlucky to miss out on the New Zealand match on the same ground that year. Though Ireland crashed to defeat in a single day - the match having been scheduled for three - Boucher was almost unplayable and Jim might well have proved likewise. His final wicket for Ireland was taken v MCC in a rain-affected draw in College Park in 1938. His wicket, at a cost of 34, was that of the Cambridge blue and Essex all rounder Norman Wykes. Jim also appeared against Scotland in 1939 but failed to take a wicket.

James Robert Graham's Irish career was curtailed by the brilliance of his contemporary JC Boucher and by the onset of war. Illness and premature death were to end his club career but he retains a high place in the annals of Leinster cricket.