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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Hamilton Bryan Barnes
  • Born Armagh,14 November 1916
  • Died 22 April 1943, Kneesall, Nottinghamshire
  • Educated Armagh Royal School
  • Occupation Gas Company Official then RAF Officer
  • Debut 11 September 1937 New Zealand at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 412
  • Style Right-hand bat, Right-arm fast
  • Teams Armagh, City of Derry

A bowler of genuine pace, and a powerful and uncomplicated striker of the ball, Jackie Barnes was first prominent at school, where his raw speed was too much for many opponents. In 1931, his Armagh School's team "had won all before them," as historian of Ulster Cricket, Clarence Hiles points out. However the NCU withheld the Graham Cup, because of bad behaviour by the Lisburn team when they had beaten Armagh the previous year. Jackie and his side were much annoyed. While still at school, he established himself in the Armagh XI, often with his brother Bobby, when the latter was not destroying bowlers in Dublin.

Jackie's performances for Armagh, whom he captained in 1938, were remarkable. While his main strength was his pace bowling, he also scored 1748 runs at 23.62, with a highest score of 125 v Donacloney in the Senior Cup Quarter Final of 1939. He was well supported by David Carson, who made 110* a score he reached three times but never exceeded. Armagh posted 309, then the Barnes brothers, with 5 each, bowled their near neighbours out for 49. As a bowler, Jackie took 308 wickets for the Club, his genuine speed troubling all who took strike against him. His best figures were a remarkable 9-5 in a Senior Friendly v Queen's University in April 1937. Remarkably, seven were clean bowled and two, including future Armagh stalwart and Prebyterian Moderator Ronnie Craig, to the first ball, LBW. He was denied the final wicket by his sibling, who also needed no help from the field. Jackie took four eight wicket hauls, four of which were against Donacloney, including a devestating 8-8 in September 1936. When they met again the following April he had 8-14

After leaving school Jackie worked for sometime for the Armagh Gas Company, whose manager Wilfred McDonough insured that he had enough time for cricket. He then joined RAF, but a suitable posting enabled him not only to continue playing for Armagh, but to turn out for City of Derry where he was very popular with spectators. At the end of the 1937 season, he was chosen, as was Bobby, to play for Ireland against the New Zealand tourists at Rathmines. It was an inauspicious debut, in a famous match. Scheduled for three days, the game was over in one. Despite heroic bowling by Jimmy Boucher, Ireland crumbled by eight wickets to Kiwi paceman Jack Cowie. Jackie Barnes got a pair and, allowed only six first innings overs, had 0-7.

Another match was arranged in which he managed 4 and 5 with the bat and took 2-57. His victims were interesting: Cowie, great bowler but no batsman, and future cricket historian WN Carson. His best season with City of Derry was the brilliant but doomed summer of 1939, when he shone as a batsman. For obvious reasons, his appearances were limited. In 6 innings he scored 285 runs at 57.00. On May 13 rain robbed City of a win, "City piled up the runs scoring 223 for five in 95 minutes with JH Barnes, City mumber five scoring 104 not out." In early June, Billy Platt again recorded, he was at it again. "A hurricane 69 in forty minutes by JH Barnes" helping City to 208 against Brigade. He was not seen much more on Irish fields. In November 1942, he was promoted to Sergeant. The following April, whilst on a training flight, his aircraft crashed and he was killed instantly. War made him one of the great unfulfilled talents of Irish Cricket. John Hamilton Bryan Barnes left a young widow Kathleen and an infant son Trevor. Unfortunately Kathleen also died young, but Trevor followed in the tradition of his father and uncles, playing matches for Armagh between 1959 and 1987, taking 155 wickets.

I am much indebted to Brian Weir's Armagh Cricket Club 150 Not Out published in 2009.