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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
James Moorhead McKelvey
  • Born 2 April 1933 Belfast
  • Educated Campbell College, Belfast Queen's University, Belfast
  • Occupation Doctor
  • Debut 17 July 1954 v Scotland at Whitehaugh, Paisley.
  • Cap Number 465
  • Style Left-hand batsman.
  • Teams Queen's Unversity, NICC.

Jimmy McKelvey, always elegantly turned out was stylish left hand batsman, who might have counted himself unlucky to have made only two appearances for Ireland. An outstanding all round sportsman at Campbell College, where his cricket benefited from the coaching of former Surrey batsman Tom McMurray, Jimmy went straight into the 1st XI at Queen's University and was selected for Ireland for two matches in 1954.

His debut against Scotland was, unfortunately, not successful. Ireland, winning the toss and batting, made 330, but Jimmy coming in on the fall of the third wicket with 178 on the board was out for 8. It was probably no consolation that he was out to the best bowler in the Scottish side, JM Allan, who the previous summer, playing for Oxford University, had claimed the wickets of Len Hutton and Keith Miller in his opening first class matches. In the second innings, as Ireland struggled somewhat to avoid an innings defeat, Jimmy managed 9 being out to the left arm medium pace of JD Henderson, who had caught him, off Allan in the first innings.

He remained in the side for the MCC match in College Park in September. Played on an unreliable wicket, this match ended in a dramatic 2 run win for Ireland. It was dominated by two bowlers: - left arm spinner Scott Huey who took 16 wickets as for Ireland and MCC medium pacer JHG Deighton who took 10 for the visitors. Jimmy fell to MCC's other medium pacer George Chesterton, a schoolmaster who played with success for Worcestershire in his holidays, for 1 in the first innings and was removed by Deighton in the second for 7.

He was to play no more for Ireland, though he, arguably, became a better player. He was a member of the Queen's team which narrowly failed to pull off a League Cup double in 1959, and on joining NICC helped them to achieve just that in the following summer. He showed his talent against superior opposition on two further occasions, both however rather too late, to gain inclusion in the national side. In 1969, he was one of the NCU XI which played v Pakistan International Airlines, including 10 who had played, or were to play Test Cricket, at Shane Park in hot August weather.

Winning the toss NCU were bundled out by Pervez Sajiid, a left arm spinner, in their first innings, but did rather better in the second. Batting at 4, his preferred position was always as an opener, Jimmy made 28 in the second innings before falling to Pervez for the second time. Memory recalls some elegant stroke player as well as withstanding some hostile pace bowling from Asif Masood, yet another Test cricketer whose name threatened to be commentator Brian Johnston's downfall. Jimmy's 28 was second highest score of the innings to Michael Reith's 46. The top six in the hosts order all got a start but only Reith passed 40. Jimmy had, however, shown his ability to counter bowling of a high class.

In 1971, as part of the Leprechauns CC silver jubilee celebrations, the full Essex side came to play a Leprechauns International XI. Captained by Gerry Duffy, the hosts included Trevor Bailey and former Test off spinner David Allen in their ranks. Jimmy opened the bating with David Pigot, and they had two productive partnerships, in a match which the County, through not enforcing the follow on, just failed to win. Jimmy scored 30 and 45, the latter the top Leprechauns score of the match. He saw off the hostile opening attack of West Indian quick Keith Boyce and future England fast left armer JK Lever, but fell in each innings to the occasional leg spin of England batsman, Keith Fletcher.

Jimmy was also a fine Rugby footballer in his younger days. His performances for Queen's in the early part of the 1955/56 season gained him two caps for Ireland at fullback, a position in which there was much chopping and changing during the 1950s. He was one of six new caps, including Dr JS Ritchie, the captain, a London Irish flanker, who took on France in the opening match. Despite a Tony O'Reilly try, and accurate goal kicking by Cecil Pedlow they were defeated. Worse however was to follow; at Twickenham, they went down 20 - 0. Most of those capped for the first time in the French match disappeared form the team, never to return, including Jimmy and the captain. Of the six, only scrum half Andy Mulligan was later to make his name on the international stage. Jimmy, as was the case with cricket, was probably a better player later on. In retirement he was President of the Ulster Branch of IRFU.

Away from Cricket and Rugby, he was for many years a highly regarded GP in Saintfield, Co Down.