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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Archibald Lynn McQuilken
  • Born 30 September 1933 Muckamore, Co Antrim
  • Died 16 October 1985 Belfast
  • Educated Muckamore PES
  • Occupation Consulting Engineer
  • Debut 18 September 1961 v Autralia at College Park, Dublin
  • Cap Number 493
  • Style Right-hand batsman; off spinner, later leg break and googly bowler.
  • Teams Muckamore

Archie McQuilken, the red headed "Wee Man" of Ulster Cricket, was a thoroughly good all rounder and, undoubtedly the best cricketer ever produced by his club. As a batsman, often opening the innings, he was pugnacious and determined, with a sound defence, but often belying his small stature, with the power and range of his stroke play. Fielding brilliantly anywhere, but usually in the covers, both his off and leg spin was also of high calibre. According to a tribute in The Ulster Cricketer (Spring 1986), he scored over 10000 runs, besides taking more than 1000 wickets, in all cricket. The essence of competitiveness on the field he was cloaked in geniality and humour off it, stories about his after match banter, cigarette in the corner of his mouth and Guinness in his hand, are legion.

Legion too, are his performances for Muckamore. Introduced to the club by his schoolmaster, the legendary JG Entwistle, he made his first team debut in 1949, gained a regular place in 1951, which he was never to surrender. That first season, when he did the hat trick against St Mary's, he headed both sets of averages, a feat he was to make a habit of. He had a remarkable all round performance against Donacloney in 1957 finishing with 8-27, having already scored 74. Another side to experience Archie's skills that summer was CIYMS, against whom, he not only scored his first hundred - 114 - but also took 9-27, though these feats were spread over two matches. Other noteworthy performances, and these but scratch the surface, were 127 v NICC in 1962, and two "near misses", an undefeated 96 v Waringstown in 1961 and 90 against Cregagh in the same season. Bowling, there was an 8 wicket haul against Instonians, as well as that v Donacloney already referred to, and several "7 fors", notably 7-10 v Cliftonville in 1963.

However, it is arguable that Archie was seen at his best in The NCU Challenge Cup. In 1969 a first round match with Donacloney saw Muckamore dismissed for 125. Their opponents reached this score with three wickets standing, whereupon the "Wee Man" took 3 wickets in 4 balls to tie the match. The replay was almost just that, Archie winning the match with two wickets in consecutive balls. It is however the final of 1963, that will always be remembered as "The Wee Man's Final."

The previous year Muckamore had reached this stage by 114 runs. The evergreen left armer Jack Bowden took 10-71 and Tom McCloy made 75 in the Wallace Park side's first knock. Archie showed his class, taking 5-64 in the Lisburn first innings, and making 49 when Muckamore chased a near impossible 259.

The following season matters were different. The Co Antrim men had a tough path to the final, whereas their opponents Downpatrick found matters rather more straightforward. Both had relied heavily on their all rounders. Archie's rival being Noel Ferguson. The match was a great contest. Batting first Muckamore made 243, Archie scoring a three hour 82, containing only three fours. Despite an aggressive 68 from captain Walter Chambers, it was Archie, running with great speed between the wickets, who ensured the commanding total. Then, ably supported by the left arm spin of his nephew Archie Campbell, he returned figures of 3-40, including the dangerous Linehan brothers, to give his side a 47 run lead, despite a top score 59 from Noel Ferguson.

Then Muckamore batted again, Noel was in the ascendant, with figures of 8-77, including Archie who managed only 15. However the Co Down men still needed a formidable 221 to win. Ferguson failed and Archie (5-40) well supported by Campbell bowled his side to a 119 run victory. Despite Ferguson's heroics, there was only one man of the match. Another final, in 1967 saw Muckamore lose heavily to Waringstown, but Archie's second innings 4-47 were the best bowling figures of the match.

For the North at Cregagh in 1962, he kept the South score within bounds with a fine spell of 12.3-0-48-5, as Pat Dineen, with 102, threatened to take the game away from the hosts. Strangely, in the South's second innings, after the hosts had declared 96 behind in an efort to force a result, Archie hardly bowled as the off spimnners Ken Kirkpatrick and Given Lyness carried all before them, though the defensive skill of Stan Bergin prevented a rout.

Somewhat surprisingly, Archie did not achieve a great deal in the Guinness Cup, though he may have partly contributed to his batting form himself. Captaining Ulster Country in the first three years of the competition, before handing over to Ivan Anderson, he often placed himself as low as 9 in the order. While his teams included not only Ivan but also Mike Reith and the Harrisons, he might, perhaps, have placed himself somewhat higher. His bowling was usually economical, but he never took more than 3 in an innings, with 3-11 against Munster at The Mardyke in 1968 his best return.

Archie played nine times for Ireland without, as Clarence Hiles has pointed out, ever quite establishing himself. He began, against Richie Benaud's Ashes winning Australian side, in College Park in September 1961. In the first Australian innings, he and all the other bowlers, except for Alec O'Riordan (5-86) came in for some fearful hammer from the tourists, but the "Wee Man" took 4-64, in 10.5 overs, in the process. Two of these were tailenders, the left arm spinners Kline and Quick who had played no part in the Tests, but he also had Benaud and wicket keeper Wally Grout both taken by the safe hands of Larry Warke.

Batting, Archie opened the innings, falling almost at once to fastman Ron Gaunt, whom injury had restricted to a solitary Test, for 2. Wicketless in the visitors second knock, Archie then made a valiant 21 when Ireland batted again, this time being bowled by leg spinner Bobby Simpson, later to become one of Australia's best ever opening batsmen, as well as captaining the side, and, being the coach, who, with Alan Border as captain, laid the foundation of Australian dominance.

1962 was Archie's best year in the side, the only one in which his place was assured and unchallenged. He was singled out in Derek Scott's annual article on Irish Cricket in Wisden. "A McQuilken, a tiny but courageous cricketer, distinguished himself by scoring 232 runs.... and to his runs he added eight wickets at a lower cost than any other bowler." His best match was in the rain affected draw with Combined Services at Ormeau in July. The Services began by totalling 177 against the pace of Ferguson and Rodney Bernstein, Archie not getting on. Then when Ireland batted, Sussex medium pacer, Tony Buss - a national serviceman - speedily removed Stanley Bergin.

Herbie Martin retired hurt and Archie joined Tom McCloy with the team in trouble. They took the score past 100, before Archie fell to the pace bowler Rex Colloinge, a Minor County player with Suffolk, for 42. The batting fell away, Ireland declaring, after rain, at 207/9. Scoring quickly, the Service batsmen weighed into the Irish spinners. However against both Archie and Gerry Duffy, they did so at their own cost. Archie finishes with figures of 6.1-0-37-5, including the wicket of the Services captain, RAF officer Maurice Fenner, a left handed batsman/ wicker keeper, good enough to play for Kent in this capacity. He later became the County's Secretary. Ireland ended on 106-5, chasing 174 in two hours. Archie made 37 adding a third wicket 67 with Stan Bergin (50). As two more wickets fell quickly before the close, Archie's all round form had done much to save the match.

The Scots match at Glenpark which followed, ended in a 5 wicket defeat, though it had been closely fought until the hosts made light of a 251 run target. Archie falling in each innings to Scots opening bowler, made 23 and 38 again at 4. His second innings saw him share in a third wicket partnership of 91 with Stan Bergin (92). Perhaps having reached 38, he should have been able to go on. He as also wicketless in the second innings, having not bowled in the first, as the pace attack of O'Riordan, Bernstein and Ferguson had bowled the Scots out cheaply.

Pakistan, on their second tour of England, made their first visit to Ireland, coming to College Park in late July. Rain had the final say and the match was drawn. For once that summer, Archie did little with the bat, though he may have later been able to reflect that it was the future Pakistan captain and great leg spinner Intikhab Alam who dismissed him cheaply in the first innings. In the second, he lost his wicket to medium pacer Antao de Souza. Archie's solitary wicket was notable as he dismissed left armer spinner Nasim-ul-Ghani, who a few weeks before, had made 101, as nightwatchman, in the Lord's Test, prolonging the match by adding 197 for the 5th wicket with his captain Javed Burki, before both were dismissed by Worcestershire seamer Len Coldwell.

The MCC match at Lord's ended in a rain affected draw, but saw a personal success for Archie. Having been out for 10 in the first innings, batting at 5 he was stumped by a youthful wicket keeper called Mike Brearley, he topscored with 60 in the second, reaching his half century in the grand manner with the first six of his career. He picked up two second innings wickets, batsman John Cuthbertson, who gained his blue at Oxford and played for Surrey but never really lived up to the expectations his school career suggested, and another former Oxonian, paceman Richard Bowman, who had opened the Lancashire attack with Brian Statham, but had few batting pretensions.

The following season, Archie lost his place in the side after the two Windies matches. This was, at least in the opinion of this writer, somewhat premature, particularly when the latitude accorded to some at around the same time is considered. At Ormeau, rain intervened, after the visitors had stormed to 209-4 at lunch. Archie with figures of 13-2-54-2 was far from unsuccessful, taking the wickets of Easton McMorris and CC (later Sir Conrad) Hunte the tourists Test openers.

At College Park, Ireland were shot out for 63 on a wet and underprepared wicket. Archie made his first duck for Ireland, but as 42 of his side's runs came from the bat of Ian Lewis, he was far from alone in his failure. He also disposed of Hunte again when he was given a bowl, so his departure from the team was questionable. He was to make only two more appearances against MCC at Lord's in 1965 and Worcestershire at Sydney Parade in 1967. Both matches ended in draws with Archie failing to take a wicket in either. He also failed with the bat at Lord's not reaching double figures against the pace of AJ Coxon, an Oxford Blue, in the first innings, and John Cotton, a Leicestershire paceman, - who was distinctly sharp - in the second. Against Worcestershire he batted competently in the first innings his 27 being third top score, but his duck in the second probably sealed his fate. It was the County's two left armers, Doug Slade and test player Norman Gifford, who accounted for him.

Archie was to continue to be a force in Muckamore cricket for some time to come. When he was appointed captain in the Club's centenary year 1974, it was the fifth time he had led the side. This surpassed the previous record holder, Norman Entwistle with four captaincies. Archie was, of course, also an excellent footballer, playing inn the midfield for Distillery, Ballymena and Ards, as well as winning amateur caps for Northern Ireland.

Archibald Lynn McQuilken had just passed his 52nd birthday when he died in Belfast as the result of a road accident.