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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Paget Terence O'Brien-Butler
  • Born 1 August 1912 Vanowrie, India 1 August 1912
  • Died 22 June 1952, Ballynure, Co Wicklow
  • Educated Clifton College
  • Occupation Army Officer
  • Debut 1 August 1936 at Rathmines v MCC
  • Cap Number 404
  • Style Right-hand bat.
  • Teams Gloucestershire Gypsies, Free Foresters, Cork County, Phoenix

Paget O'Brien-Butler was a fluent, stroke making middle order batsman, who played good quality club cricket in England, particularly for wandering sides. His military duties very much restricted his appearances both in these matches and in Ireland, or he would most certainly have added to his solitary Irish cap. He came from a family well known in both military and sporting circles. His grandfather was an army officer reputed to be "The best shot in the British Army", though big game rather than the enemy were generally his target.

Paget's father, also Paget, who was killed on the Western Front, was also a professional soldier, well known for his riding skills. A legendary master of Foxhounds in both England and Ireland, he was, while stationed there, seen as the best amateur jockey in India, being also almost that back at home. In 1906, his last full year in Ireland, he rode 13 winners in the steeplechasing season. His brother Pierce, Paget's uncle, was a good cricketer and better Rugby footballer. He gained six caps for Ireland at full back, taking part in the victory over Wales that won the Triple Crown in 1898-99. He played cricket for (Dublin) Civil Service and Phoenix, scoring a brilliant 157* v Sandymount for Service in 1897. He later replaced the well known JL Hurford as Phoenix Secretary, scoring 900 runs for the club in 1898. A doctor, he went with Irish troops to South Africa for the Second Boer War, where he died from dysentery.

Paget was not in the XI at Clifton, but made his mark in cricket in the county (Gloucestershire) and was elected member of the prestigious Gloucestershire Gypsies wandering side. This club had been founded in 1922, by Dr Edgar Mervyn Grace, son of the great Dr Edward Mills Grace and thus a nephew of WG. It had some 400 members worldwide, and to be elected one of them was seen as a tribute both to playing ability and character.

One of their matches involving Paget may be recorded here. In June 1933, they played Hampshire Hogs, a similar side, on the County Ground at Bristol. Besides Paget and Grace, the team included no less than three other players with hyphenated surnames! It also included RP Keigwin who had gained a Cambridge Blue in four seasons from 1903, and, when captain of Clifton College in 1901, had had in his team, AEJ Collins who, in a house match at the College's Junior School in 1899, had made a little matter of 628* still the record innings in any class of cricket. He also took 12 wickets in the game! To return to Paget's match, which was a two day affair, his team collapsed in the first innings, he batted first drop and made 3, having to follow on after a Hogs score of 340. In the second innings they did much better, finishing on 293-9, Paget top scoring with 75.

His one match for Ireland was the MCC match at Observatory Lane in August 1936, which Ireland, thanks to a fine all round performance by their captain Jimmy Boucher, good batting by Frank Connell (87) in the first innings, and a superb hundred by James Macdonald in the second, won by the overwhelming margin of 285 runs. At 6 in the first innings, Paget played well for a sound 18, keeping an end up while 82 were added. He fell victim to Harold Palmer an Essex amateur who bowled either leg spin or fast medium, but was evidently operating in his slower style in this match. Palmer, who did not appear in another first class match took his career best bowling figures of 6-87, not a bad way to finish a 160 wicket first class career. In the second innings Paget batted at 8 and made only 3, before giving a return catch to medium pacer JT Neve, in his only first class match. John Neve was, however well known at club and Minor County level, and was to be a success on the MCC tour of Canada the following season.

Paget's military career was one of great distinction. He entered the Second World War a Lieutenant and finished it a Lieutenant-Colonel. He was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the First Battle of El Alamein in July 1942. This event is often ignored because of the more famous fight in the same area later in the year but it was of great importance. Paget was described in the medal citation as, "A magnificent example to his men" and as having, "shown great powers of leadership." In an attack on a German position, "It was his courage and drive that was mainly responsible for the success of attack." Later when encirclement by Panzers caused the position to be abandoned, "He extricated his battery with great skill and he went back under heavy fire to salvage two vehicles which had been hit."