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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Michael Bernard Williams
  • Born 14 September 1910 Dublin
  • Died 11 March 1973 Dublin
  • Educated CBS Synge Street Dublin
  • Occupation
  • Debut 30 July 1938 v MCC at College Park
  • Cap Number 416
  • Style Right hand batsman, right arm off breaks.
  • Teams Pembroke

Mickey Williams was, like his elder brother Tommy, a fine all round cricketer and a mainstay of the Pembroke Club for many years. A highly effective right hand batsman, he may have lacked his sibling's power and elegance but had a very good record in Leinster Senior Cricket. His long time team mate WF Aylward described him thus in an article in the Pembroke Centenary Handbook, "He was endowed with an ideal temperament and was at his best when his side was fighting for runs."

He aggregated 6992 runs in Leinster Senior Cricket at 27.91 with 5 hundreds and 31 scores of over 50. his highest score - 195 - came in a match against Clontarf at Castle Avenue involving an incident which Alyward recalled with relish some years later. John Hill, never a man to trifle with, was bowling to Mickey and switched to round the wicket. Mickey asked for the sight screen to be moved, "It can't be. It's tied to the tree, " said John.

On Mickey's insistence John had to revert to over the wicket. Mickey then survived a very confident appeal for caught behind and proceeded to his vast score. What John thought of this is, perhaps fortunately, not recorded.

Mickey won the Marchant Cup in 1954 with an average of 46. That year saw Pembroke win the Leinster Senior Cup defeating Dublin University by 189 runs in the Final at Rathmines. There was, of course no overs limitation in those far off days, and Pembroke racked up 442-8 before declaring, Mickey, at No 4, topscoring with 96, one of 5 half centuries made for the winners. He also had a good match in the 1946 Final against Merrion in College Park. This match lasted for 5 days because of many bad light interruptions. However Mickey's 73, top score in the match, saw his side to a formidable 281, paving the way for an ultimate victory margin of 137.

He was also an excellent runner between the wickets, never better than when in partnership with Tommy, the brothers both being masters of the "short single." Aylward recalled a match with Clontarf in 1938 when by great running and understanding they chased down a total of 232, just beating the clock to win by 8 wickets. Again John Hill's thoughts on the matter were unrecorded.

Mickey was also a high quality off spinner who performed the hat trick against Malahide in 1954. Usually opening the Pembroke attack he took 627 wickets in competitive cricket at 12.45 including 44 "5 fors." He won the O'Grady Cup in his final season of 1957, when Pembroke again won the Cup defeating Leinster by 230 runs in the Final. Mickey had 4-9 to round off his career. In all he played in six Finals, winning four of them. One other Cup tie may be mentioned here, a semi final against Phoenix in 1943. The Williams brothers dominated the match, Tommy gave his greatest all round performance scoring 88 and taking 5-74. However had there been a Man of the Match adjudicator, he would have been hard pressed to make a choice, for Mickey hit a solid 61 and took 5-52!

Mickey's inevitable debut for Ireland came against MCC at College Park in late July 1938. The match, a two day affair was ruined by rain which allowed for less than a day and a half's play. Batting first Ireland were in trouble against a far from powerful attack which reduced Ireland to 45-4. He joined Jimmy Boucher in a stand of 32 for the 5th wicket, of which he made 22. He batted well and seemed set for a big score until he was bowled by a big turning off break from former Oxford and future Worcestershire captain, Sandy Singleton, who proved to be MCC's most effective bowler. Boucher made 23 and Frank Reddy, surprisingly low in the order, 37 to enable Ireland reach 170. MCC led by 56 but, thanks to an excellent undefeated half century from James Macdonald, Ireland were never in danger of defeat. Mickey was not called upon to bat in the second innings, nor had his bowling been used.

He retained his place in the side for the following game against a powerful Julien Cahn's XI, which included three Test players and five other well known first class players. Ireland recorded a remarkable innings victory. While this was largely due to a superb hundred from Ham Lambert and some fine bowling from the old firm of Boucher and Eddie Ingram, Mickey also played an important part as a batsman, his bowling again not being called upon. Cahn's XI had been bowled out for 115, by Boucher and Ingram, but Ireland, facing an attack including South African paceman Denjys Morkel and the Australian "Chinaman" bowler Jack Walsh, who would surely have played Test cricket had he not made a career first for Cahn's sides and then for Leicestershire, were 132-6 when Mickey joined Lambert. Their stand of 64, to which Mickey contributed 22, proved the turning point of the innings which, with wicket keeper Charles Cuffe hitting powerfully, finished on 267. Further good bowling by the Belvedere Two, led to victory.

Ireland's season finished with two matches against the Australian tourists who were bereft of Bradman, who had been injured bowling in the Final Test of the summer as England had piled up 903-7 declared. Mickey missed the Belfast match but was in the side for the encounter in College Park. Ireland were overwhelmed but Mickey again showed his skill at this level. Batting first Ireland were all out for 100, with the great leg spinner Bill O'Reilly taking 3-7 in seven overs. Mickey, coming in at 7, topscored with 22 which included three 4s and one huge 6. This was struck off the Australian batsman Syd Barnes who was also a very handy leg spinner. The ball sailed over the trees at the Library End of the ground where the Rollins Memorial Scoreboard used to stand until it was destroyed by fire in 1963, an incident totally unrelated to the fact that this writer was then the University 1st XI scorer!. Barnes, however, dismissed Mickey two balls later! In his second innings, Mickey was caught off leg spinner Frank Ward for 6.

Not selected in 1939 Mickey then, in company with many other fine cricketers, found his international the career put on hold by six years of war. He was to play three more matches after the long hiatus but achieved little with the bat. He was, however, called upon to bowl, the last of his four wickets being that of South African batsman Russell Endean at Ormeau in 1951, no bad player to finish with.

As we have seen Michael Bernard Williams continued to be a real force in Leinster cricket for some time to come. It is probable that he would have had a longer and more distinguished career for Ireland had Hitler not intervened.