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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Brian William Hemsworth Stronach
  • Born 4 July 1928 Nairobi, Kenya
  • Died April 1984 Galway
  • Educated St Andrew's College, Grahamstown, South Africa; Dublin University
  • Occupation Game Warden and Wild Life Lecturer
  • Debut 16 July 1951 v South Africa at College Park
  • Cap Number 454
  • Style Right hand bat
  • Teams Dublin University;Tanganyika

Brian Stronach was a good upper order batsman who was, perhaps, unfortunate in not being asked to play for Ireland again, after, in company with most of his team-mates, he found the bowling of the 1951 South African side too much for him. African born, but with Irish ancestry, he had a successful all round sporting career at St Andrew's, Grahamstown, a nursery for more than one leading South African sportsman.

He entered Dublin University in 1948 and was four years in the XI from 1949. He was captain in 1951, leading a powerful side that included three other Irish Internationals, current or future, in Larry Warke, Mervyn Jaffey and Peter Webb. Also in the side were the fine Nigerian all rounder OO Coker, whose younger brother John caused a brief stir in Irish and English Rugby circles in the early 1960s, as a strong running wing three quarter, and Robin Roe, Ireland and Lions hooker in succession to Grand Slam winning captain, Karl Mullen. Robin later became a British Army Chaplain and won the Military Cross in action in Aden.

Brian was the leading batsman of the season, hitting three, of his career four, competitive 50s, and earning selection for the South African match in College Park.

The 1951 South Africans lost the Test series 3-1, with the better of a drawn match. They came to Ireland following a rain enforced draw with Scotland, which match had come after a defeat in the Third Test at Old Trafford. They won by 8 wickets at Ormeau, before coming to College Park, where Brian and Simon Curley replaced Woodvale's George Wilson and Lisburn's Herbie Martin in the side. This was rather hard on George, whose first innings 29, had been the second top score by an Irish batsman at Ormeau.

In Dublin the visitors included the ferocious fast bowler, Cuan McCarthy, the fastest in the World at the time, though many believed that to describe him as a bowler was a breach of Cricket's Trades Descriptions Act and Hugh Tayfield, then a reserve for the Test off spinner Athol Rowan, but later to become one of South Africa's greatest bowlers. McCarthy bowled with a noticeably bent arm but was not "called" on the tour. Eminent umpire Frank Chester wanted to no ball him during the First Test but was told by Sir Pelham Warner, weak willed grey eminence of English Cricket, that he would not be supported. Warner, whose inadequate management of the Body Line tour had allowed that crisis to grow, thus missed the chance to nip the throwing issue in the bud, but preferred not to upset his visitors. Only Eddie Ingram in the first innings and Stan Bergin in the second, showed the ability to cope with the bowling, which also included leg spinning all rounder and future Test captain, Clive van Ryneveld. Clive was a former double blue at Oxford, who had played Rugby for England. Brian made 1, at No 5, in the first innings, coming in at 23-3, after Bergin, Tom McCloy and Donald Shearer had all gone cheaply.

Recorded for posterity by Wisden as D Stronach, he was caught by opener Jackie McGlew off Tayfield. In the second innings, which Ireland began needing 199 to make their visitors bat again, he came in at 62-3, after Bergin, who carried his bat for 79* and Shearer (13), had added 61. McCarthy, who had hardly bowled in the first innings, was in full cry. Brian was leg before first ball, a delivery which he never saw. Perhaps it would have been better if he had been bowled as he would then have been able to ask the umpire, as Doug Insole once did after being yorked by Tony Lock's highly dubious faster ball, "Was I bowled or run out?" Ireland lost by an innings and 72.

Brian did not play for Ireland again. In fact his Irish cricket career was nearly over, though he played a few matches for the University's Cup winning XI the following season.

He later became involved with wildlife in Tanganyika, as it then was. Before finally retiring, he and his wife Shirley, also a Dublin University graduate, remained in the country when it became Tanzania, he had been a Game Warden, Wildlife College Lecturer and Tsetse Officer. He had also, in his younger days, continued his cricket. In 1954, he played in the, then, annual two day match between Tanganyika and Uganda at Dar es Salam. In those pre Amin days, the Ugandan side had several good Asian cricketers. Brian apart, the hosts had some players already known in cricket elsewhere. RE Meridew, who opened the batting and bowling, had played two matches for Kent Seconds in 1948, while the middle order batsman Malcolm Ronaldson had played, with some success, in South Africa's Currie Cup Competition in 1937/38. This match was a high scoring draw, there only being time for each side to complete one innings. Brian made 18 at No 5. His club cricket continued for some time but no further scores of appearances in major matches have been seen.

He subsequently retuned to Ireland, and was living in Galway at the time of his death. His son has followed him into the world of conservation, being a well known zoologist.