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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Jack Bowden
  • Born 17 October 1916, Lisburn, Co Antrim
  • Died 22 December 1988, Lisburn, Co Antrim
  • Educated Lisburn Technical School
  • Debut 13 July 1946 against Scotland at Glenpark, Greenock
  • Cap Number 423
  • Style Right-hand bat, slow left arm
  • Teams Lisburn

Jack Bowden was a fine all round sportsman. His quality left arm spin was backed up by no nonsense lower order batting. He was also an outstanding hockey player, gaining 19 Irish caps either side of the War. As a cricketer, he was one of the many promising youngsters brought in to Lisburn cricket by professional Joe Awty's schoolboy team. He first played for the First XI aged 16, and was to be a member of 8 NCU Challenge Cup winning sides between 1942 and 1962. He also led Lisburn to a hat trick of League titles 1950 - 52.

He was often a major reason for victory. In 1942, his captaincy and 5-30 were the main reasons for a 1 run win over Waringstown. In 1946, he destroyed a strong NICC batting line up, including Pollock, Shearer, Morrison and Marks, to return match figures of 9-83 and win by 66 runs. His batting was never his strongest suit: as the Club's Centenary History commented it, "Wasn't to be found in any coaching book... but he hit the ball murderously hard." Thus in the 1951 Final he followed 6-46 with 146*, but NICC still won by 61 runs, thanks to two fine knocks by Don Shearer. He saw his club to a further 3 Cups with three "10 fors," he also had 7-44 in the abandoned Final of 1958 against Sion Mills. In 1961, he helped gain an 8 wicket win over Woodvale with 5-42, but, regime change was at hand in the spin department at Wallace Park, for an 18 year old left armer called Dermott Monteith stole the honours with 10-91 in the match!

Jack never achieved the same figures for Ireland. He was not always selected, having to compete with local rival "Sonny" Hool for a place, and, when he did play there were often two other spinners in the side. His two best performances were against Scotland, both at his "happy hunting ground" of Ormeau. In 1949 he and Jimmy Boucher bowled Scotland out for 80, to give Ireland a vital 54 run lead, Jack's figures were 14.1-6-23-6. Wisden reported, "The combination of Boucher, right arm off breaks, and Bowden, left arm slow, proved too much for Scotland," but for once the great Phoenix man had to take second place. Jack had a further 2 in the second innings as 5 bowlers shared the spoils. He also took 5-58 in the 1953 match, when rain allowed less than 5 hours play. Only in 3 other matches did he manage 3 wickets in an innings. In 1947, his 3-15 against MCC at Lord's helped Ireland to a then rare win at St John's Wood. His most interesting victim was young MCC groundstaff wicket keeper Rupert Webb, who was to keep for Sussex for 12 years, but became better-known post retirement for a cameo role in "Four Weddings and a Funeral."

Jack also took 3 wickets in both Indian games in 1952. These were at high cost but included some worthy opponents. He twice disposed of HR Adhikari, the vice captain and the subject of one of the more unrepeatable Fred Trueman stories, and GS Ramchand, a future Test captain and good all rounder. He also had Vijay Manjrekar, father of Sanjay, and one of the very few batsmen in the team who could resist Trueman's pace.

Jack was, as has been said an excellent hockey player. He played for Lisnagarvey for many years, and was a member of four Triple Crown winning Irish sides. He was once captain of his country. After retirement he worked tirelessly for both his clubs, and is fondly remembered by followers of both games.

His, somewhat brief, obituary is in Wisden 1990.