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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Vivian Alderson Metcalfe
  • Born 5 March 1906 Saltin, Yorkshire
  • Died 28 December 1967 Addlestone, Surrey
  • Educated
  • Occupation
  • Debut 20 June 1936 v Scotland at Raeburn Place Edinburgh
  • Cap Number 401
  • Style Right hand batsman
  • Teams Wales, North Down, NICC

Vivian Metcalfe was a Yorkshireman and, unsurprisingly therefore, a sound upper order batsman. His qualification for both Wales and Ireland were strictly residential, work having taken him first to the Principality and then to Northern Ireland. He made enough runs in club cricket in North Wales to gain selection for Wales against the West Indian tourists at Llandudno in the summer of 1928, though in representative matches, for example for North Wales v MCC, he had been unsuccessful.

The West Indies were on their first Test tour. They were a side of average strength who, by the time they came to Llandudno to play Wales amidst the ornate splendour of the Victorian sea side resort with the hill of the Great Orme towering over the ground, had already lost to Ireland and Middlesex.

They lost to Wales as well by 8 wickets with Vivian, at 6, making little contribution in his only innings. The visitors batted first but were dismissed for 198. However spectators were treated to an elegant 50 from West Indies opener George Challenor, who is deservedly remembered as the first great batsman from the Caribbean. He was now somewhat past his best but was still the equal or superior of most batsmen in England. We can assume that Vivian, as a player of some ability himself, must have enjoyed the spectacle. When Wales batted he came in at 6, but did not last long. A few crisp shots brought him to 18 then he was caught by Ernest Rae off leg spinner James Neblet. Ernest's son Alan was to be a key, though unsung, member of the victorious side which toured England in 1950.

A left handed opener, he blunted the England attack, preparing the ground for the assaults by the Three Ws. Vivian was not called upon to bat again. When his career took him to Belfast, he played several seasons for North Down, as a player of some ability he would have been snapped up by the legendary and predatory Willie Andrews, always on the lookout for fresh talent to play at The Green. North Down won three successive Cup Finals from 1934 to 1936, as well as having won in 1931 and 1932. Vivian was in the side for the three in the mid 30s. His batting in 1934 had much to do with North Down reaching the Final. Against Holywood in the first round, he made 79, strongly supporting James Macdonald's 87 as the Comber side made 319 before bowling their opponents out for a paltry 43. Vivian then top scored with 89 in the second round against Strabane before excelling himself in the semi-final with City of Derry, making a stylish, undefeated 108 setting up a 210 runs victory over City who badly missed the pace bowling of Army officer William Zambra who played for MCC against Ireland at Sion Mills a week later, taking three top order second innings wickets.

In the fina1 against Woodvale he was out for 7 at No 4 in the first innings, his team having to thank the inevitable Macdonald brothers for a good total. Dismissing Woodvale cheaply to secure a lead of 81, they were faced in their second innings by a fierce assault from the pace of Charlie Billingsley, undoubtedly the fastest bowler in Ireland at the time. He took 6-47 including Vivian, who did, however, make 21, joining James Macdonald and David McKibbin in providing enough resistance to the paceman to set Woodvale a "tough ask." Despite a sound innings from Billy McCleery they lost by 131 runs, James Macdonald increasing his bag of wickets in the match to eight.

North Down were back at Ormeau the following season facing Cliftonville. This match was dominated by James Macdonald who scored a superb undefeated 159 then bowled the opposition out twice to secure an innings victory, in which Vivian had little part to play. Going in first he was out for 14. In 1936, when Vivian's prolific form saw him win the his three Irish caps, Woodvale were again the opposition. The match proved to be a low scoring thriller with North Down's first innings 112 being the highest score of the match. All runs therefore were golden, Vivian's 16 at No 3 being worth considerably more than such a score might appear. It was second top score to TJ Macdonald's 35 and ensured a 30 run first innings lead. With Woodvale collapsing again, ND required only 47 to win, but, eventually, were glad to retain the Cup by 4 wickets.

Vivian made his Irish debut against Scotland at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh but the match was an unhappy one both for him and his team. Batting first Scotland were all out for 292, though Billingsley bowled well to take 4-80. Ireland in reply were hurried out for 64, with Vivian at No 2, bowled by George Forbes, a fast bowling Aberdonian bank manager for 0. Only Eddie Ingram, among the Irish batsmen stood firm with a resolute 28. Scotland declared their second innings at 155-8, before Ireland fell away again being dismissed for 165. Ingram with 54 - he also had 8 wickets in the match - received better support this time, though not from Vivian who was again out to Forbes caught for 4. Ireland now faced India in conditions which were certainly more amenable to the hosts - a cold wind and frequent rain showers - than the visitors.

This was not a bad Indian side, including a great batsman in VM Merchant, a very good one in Mushtaq Ali as well as CK Nayudu a top class batsman and very good bowler and the hostile fast medium bowler Mohammed Nissar. Its main weakness was the captain "Vizzy" or to give him his full name The Maharajkumar Sir Vijaya Anand of Vizianagram. Owing the captaincy to his wealth and social position, he was source of division and in fighting throughout the tour. He was an average cricketer, but certainly not worth the Test place he assumed. Ireland gained a 10 run lead on the first innings having made 161 batting first. Dropped to No 8 in the order, one below his captain Jimmy Boucher, Vivian made 36 before being well caught by MJ Gopalan. Vivian and Boucher (32) had added 61 for the 7th wicket, easily the highest partnership for Ireland in the match. He was second last out, having helped his captain to ensure a none too disastrous total. Unfortunately, having dismissed India for 151 - with Boucher taking 6-30- the Irish batting then collapsed against the slow medium off spin of CK Nayudu, Vivian was not to repeat his first innings heroics. Promoted to 7 in the order, he was bowled by CK for 5. Needing 131 to win the visitors stormed to a 10 wicket victory with the great opener Vijay Merchant making 71* and his partner Mushtaq Ali revealing his extensive repertoire of stroke play.

MCC were in College Park shortly after the Indian visit. Recovering from the two defeats suffered, Ireland won by 285 runs. Though MCC included two Test players in the former England captain Lionel - Lord - Tennyson and Jack McBryan and were led by MK Foster one of the famous Worcestershire brotherhood, they were outplayed with Boucher again very much to the fore. Unfortunately Vivian was able to make little contribution to the victory. He was dismissed in each innings by Harry Palmer of Essex a bowler who mixed leg spin with fast medium deliveries. Coming in at 7 - one above Boucher, who made his highest Irish score 85, Vivian was dismissed for 16 in the first innings and 2 in the second clean bowled on each occasion. He had the doubtful distinction in the second innings of becoming the last of Palmer's 160 wickets in first class cricket.

Vivian Alderson Metcalfe did not play for Ireland again.