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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Frank Joseph Miller
  • Born 2 October 1916 Cork
  • Died 2 January 2000 Donnybrook, Dublin
  • Educated Belvedere College
  • Occupation Insurance Company Executive
  • Debut 6 July 1949 at College Park v MCC
  • Cap Number 447
  • Style Right hand bat; wicket keeper.
  • Teams Pembroke, Railway Union

Frank Miller was an outstandingly good wicket keeper, usually preferring to stand up to the stumps to all types of bowling. This was more than justified by the large number of stumpings he achieved, and the brilliance of his catching. This writer has a childhood memory of a dark and cold day at College Park in 1952 and of leaving the ground with the abiding impression of speed and brilliance behind the wickets. That day I had seen two wicket keepers in action. The other, the MCC gloveman, SC "Billy" Griffith had kept wicket for England in place of the great Godfrey Evans, who, The Boys' Book of Cricket informed me, was the best wicket keeper in the world. That damp September day Frank lost nothing in comparison with Billy.

Frank had learned the game at Belvedere College, yet another Irish international to come off that seemingly endless production line.

He played his senior cricket for Pembroke and Railway Union, thus being the predecessor of excellent glovemen such as the uncapped Harry Hill at Sydney Parade and Des Byrne at Park Avenue as well course as the ebulient Niall O'Brien. Frank headed the LCU wicket keepers' list in both 1949 and 1951 but, unfortunately, was a rather negligible batsman. His one productive stoke was a hoick over mid wicket. On one occasion for Pembroke against Phoenix, he employed it to great effect. Coming in at 40-8, he crossbatted his way to 52 and his side to 170, enough for victory. Throughout his long career he had the ill luck never to play in a Leinster Senior Cup winning side. Pembroke carried off the trophy in 1944, a season in which he was captain, but injury reduced his role in the Final to that of spectator.

In his 25 matches for Ireland, he scored only 73 runs at 6.80, though, as we shall see, he did play one vital innings which turned out to be a match winner. As a keeper he made 25 dismissals, catching 12 and stumping 13. He lies 10th in the table of Ireland's all time wicket keeping statistics. It is worth mentioning that, had he had the opportunity to play as many times as Ossie Colhoun or Peter Jackson, and maintained his average of dismissals per match, he would be second in the table. Likewise had he played as much as O'Brien or Allan Rutherford, his record would surpass each of theirs.

His first match came against Yorkshire at College Park in the long hot summer of 1949. This match, ending in a big win for Yorkshire, saw spectacular batting from both sides. In Yorkshire's first innings of 293, Ted Lester, a free scoring middle order batsman, who scored almost 11000 first class runs with 25 hundreds and the Yorkshire captain Norman Yardley, a technically very correct player, who made over 18000 first class runs, besides playing 20 Tests, 14 as captain. They put on 112 for the 5th wicket. Lester making 78 and Yardley, who batted only 92 minutes, finishing on 103.

Both were smartly stumped by Frank, though he had missed a difficult inside edge chance from the captain early on in his innings. He claimed Lester, later to be the Yorkshire scorer for many years, off Eddie Ingram, always a difficult bowler to take as he mixed leg spin with medium pace swing. Yardley was dismissed off Jimmy Boucher, again a difficult bowler, as he delivered his sharply turning off breaks from a long run at little short of medium pace. The wicket helped the spinners but may well have been better than those Yardley had encountered when stationed in Omagh during the War. In his autobiography "Cricket Campaigns", he - or his ghost- noted that the "Irish temperament is very friendly, but some of their wickets would be more suited to fox hunting."

His dismissal might be said to have started a fashion for Frank, as he was to be responsible for sending three other England captains pavilionwards. In the MCC match of 1950, the great Wally Hammond emerged from retirement but, in his first innings, was caught by Frank off Ingram for 15 and Donald Carr, captain of Derbyshire between 1955 and 1962, who led England in one Test on the MCC tour of India in 1951/52 was taken off Boucher. Hammond did make 93* in the second innings.

A quartet of such victims was achieved when George Mann, who had captained England in South Africa in 1948/49, was caught off the Cambridge Blue and Essex seamer Charles Kenny. Frank was standing up, as usual, Charles bowled at a pace brisk enough to make his county keeper, Paul Gibb, who had worn the gloves for England, stand back to him. Mann was to become the father of Simon Mann, the former SAS officer turned unsuccessful coup organiser.

Frank was, as has been mentioned, not among the leading batsmen of his day. In 1953 he lost his place in the side to Eddie Marks, who was a good club batsman, as well as being a highly competent keeper. Eddie scored a lot of runs for North Down and NICC, but was never able to do so for Ireland, either in place of Frank, or again, when he was brought back at the expense of Walter Fawcett.

Frank, who had one good score to his credit, 18* against Scotland in a heavy defeat suffered in 1952, returned to the line up for the MCC matches of 1954 and 1955. The former year saw the College Park wicket misbehave to the great advantage of Scott Huey for Ireland and the medium pacers John Deighton and George Chesterton for the visitors. Ireland won by two runs, thus their first innings 9th wicket stand of 31 was crucial. Frank made 11 as Huey took on the attack. He, Frank, was eventually bowled by Deighton, the Eglinton left armer was undefeated on 29 after Ernie Bodell was bowled for 2.