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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
George Charles Morrison
  • Born 27 June 1915 Downpatrick, Co Down
  • Died 11 October 1993 Stranmillis, Belfast
  • Educated Methodist College, Belfast; Queen's University, Belfast
  • Occupation Artist
  • Debut 18 June 1947 v Yorkshire at Harrogate
  • Cap Number 430
  • Style Right-hand bat, right arm medium
  • Teams Queen's University; North of Ireland CC

George Morrison was a sound opening batsman, who after cutting his teeth in senior cricket with Queen's University, was to become a fixture at the top of the NICC order for more than a decade and a half. Learning the game at "Methody"- always a good nursery for sportsmen - he was originally an all rounder, but, though his medium pace was good enough to gain him the new ball on three of his four Irish appearances, it was always a second string, and was eventually laid to rest, as he became, what his Club's centenary book described as "a staid opening bat."

He began with North in 1939 as a No 4, but from the following season until the end of the so called summer of 1956, he was always seen taking first strike. He had a varied range of partners, the most long lasting of whom was Irish wicket keeper/batsman Eddie Marks who was his partner during his final six seasons. Others to face the new ball with him included Stuart Pollock, who was always happier at 3 or 4, where his stroke play could have freer range, Tom McMurray, who had fielded 12th man for England at The Oval in 1934 and Bernard Lock, a war time addition to the Club, who had a long and distinguished career for Devon, as well as playing one championship match for Kent. Bernard was also a good rugby player, who gained a war time Ulster cap, as well as playing for NIFC during this period.

George was captain of NICC in 1946 when they were defeated by Lisburn in the Cup Final, a double disappointment for him as his batting had done much to put them there. George and the Club had the substantial consolation of the League title, to add to one he had helped them win in 1940. In 1954, in the evening of his career, they were to win the League again.

The Cup did not elude them during George's time. Lisburn were defeated in a thriller in 1951 with George playing a notable part in the victory. Winning the toss at Ormeau, the hosts found themselves bowled out for 180 with only Donald Shearer (37) able to counter Jack Bowden's clever left arm spin. Lisburn, however, also met a master craftsman of slow bowling, Sonny Hool taking 5-21 to give North a 99 run lead. Now they piled up the runs, with Marks making 81, Shearer 70 and George, providing stability to back up the stroke makers' flamboyance, 61. Facing a seemingly impossible 403 to win, the Wallace Park side gave their opponents a fright as Bowden hit a magnificent 146*, but, taking over the spin attack from his fellow Dubliner, off spinner John Hill had 4-89 to ensure the Cup came to Ormeau.

George's four Irish caps came in 1947. His figures are modest enough in all conscience, but it must be remembered that he came straight out of Saturday afternoon cricket to take on County and Test Match attacks. Further, in his first two outings, he showed considerable skill in his basic task of facing the new ball. Having not been selected for the annual match with Scotland - which might have been a kinder baptism - he was one of the party chosen for the English tour which followed. His debut came against Yorkshire, the reigning Champions, though they lost the title to Middlesex that year, at Harrogate. Up to a point Ireland did well, bowling the hosts out for a first innings 164, thanks to the old firm of Eddie Ingram and Jimmy Boucher.

George, who had opened the bowling unsuccessfully - he was never to take a wicket in his brief new ball spells for Ireland - found himself going in first with NICC teammate Stuart Pollock against the formidable opening attack of Alex Coxon and Ron Aspinall. Both men were big strong fast medium bowlers, a handful for many more experienced batsmen than George. Coxon played for England the following year, Aspinall might well have done so had it not been for injury. George's cast iron defence held them up until the spinners came on. He was then bowled by the off breaks of Ellis Robinson, who proceeded to destroy the Irish batting, taking 6-35. "Robinson excelled with his slow bowling, " according to Wisden, only Ingram, and to a lesser extent Paddy Waldron, being able to counter him and the left arm spin of future England regular Johnny Wardle. All out for 92, Ireland ended up needing well over 200 to win. George again defied the pacemen, but fell to Wardle as soon as spin was introduced. This time Bobby Barnes leant Ingram some support but a defeat by 121 runs resulted.

George did not play against the wandering side the Craven Gentlemen, captained by the great Herbert Sutcliffe, but was in the team for the match against Derbyshire at Buxton, where the ground is perched high in the Pennines and snow has, more than once, interrupted play. However it was the hosts' attack rather than the elements which were Ireland's undoing. Batting first, they were bundled out for 111, with leg spinner AEG - Bert - Rhodes perplexing them to take 5-26. George had again shown his skill against the new ball as he and Pollock put on 30 for the first wicket against a test Match pairing of George Pope and Cliff Gladwin.

Again it was spin - in the shape of Rhodes' googly - which undid Morrison, after he had made 16 which were to prove his highest score for Ireland. Ireland eventually went down by an innings, despite Shearer, Barnes and Charlie Posnett all show some ability to handle the spinners. For once George had not seen the new ball off, Gladwin bowling him for 4.

In July the South Africans came to Ireland for two two-day matches. George did not play in College Park, where a waterlogged ground prevented any play on the first day, but did not stop the great off spinner Athol Rowan destroying Ireland on the second when he took 9-39 in their only innings. On to Ormeau and George, back in the side, again had to face top class spin. Rowan, opening the attack with medium pacer Lindsay Tuckett, had him straight away caught at short leg by opening bat Bruce Mitchell for 1 as Ireland crashed to 32 all out, with only Pollock 10, making double figures. Despite Boucher using the conditions well, the visitors put 218 on the board and, before the close had won the match, bowling Ireland out for 61, George falling to Rowan for 1, this time clean bowled. Rowan had match figures of 12-24.

He was not in the South African side for the extra match arranged for the following day, when Boucher bowled Ireland to a famous victory, taking 7-37. George was, however, out straight away to Tuckett who troubled all the batsmen save Shearer and Barnes who assured the hosts' triumph.

George Charles Morrison was not asked to play for Ireland again and returned to grace the scene at Ormeau for a further nine years and to concentrate on his work as an artist. He had a fair reputation as a painter of landscapes, two of his works- of scenes in Mayo and Donegal - fetching a good price at a Christies (Scotland) auction in 1991.