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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Cheyne Graves
  • Born 16 November 1841 Fitzwilliam Square Dublin
  • Died 9 September 1868
  • Educated Mr Rowley's School, Dublin University
  • Occupation Indian Civil Servant
  • Debut 20 May 1861 v All England XI Coburg Gardens, Dublin
  • Cap Number 52
  • Style Hand unknown
  • Teams Dublin University, Phoenix

John Graves was a good upper order batsman who usually opened the innings. His career in Irish cricket was cut short by his decision to follow a career in the Indian Civil Service, while his tragically early death denied him any chance of a return. He was a member of an old Anglo-Irish family highly regarded in academic, literary and sporting circles. His father Charles Groves, formerly a leading athlete at Dublin University, became Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick, while his four younger brothers were also all well-known sportsmen, one of them, Arnold playing cricket twice for Ireland as well as captaining the University rugby team. Best known of the family was John's nephew Robert famed for his war poetry and authorship of Goodbye to all That and I Claudius.

John entered Dublin University in 1859 and was in the XI that year and the following two. He won his Colours all three seasons, but, unfortunately, no averages were kept, so details of his performances are thin. His contemporaries in the side included 11 others who played for Ireland at some stage in their careers, the best known of whom, from a cricket point of view, being the legendary underarmer Arthur Samuels.

John's one match for Ireland came in May 1861 against the All England XI at the now lost ground of Coburg Gardens, the square today submerged by the National Concert Hall. The match was promoted by Charles Lawrence and the wicket preparation and catering arrangements were in the hands of Reverend JC Rice.

The weather was fine and the crowd large, but, unfortunately, the Irish XXII's performance did not match the occasion. The bowling of Edgar Willsher, the terrifyingly fast John "Foghorn" Jackson and - in the second innings- the "Lion of the North", George Parr, was far too much for the hosts. Batting exactly half way down the order, John was out for 4 in the first innings caught by star batsman Richard Daft, ancestor of Sir Robin Butler Cabinet Secretary to John Major and Tony Blair, off Willsher, one of the pioneers of overarm bowling. He was not alone in his failure. In a total of 46 all out (Jackson 11-21, Willsher 9-20) the highest score was an undefeated 6 from wicket keeper Alexander Brennan. While Lawrence, with 7-47, ensured that the visitors lead was only a slight one, the Irish batting crumbled again, though on this occasion Robert Gordon led the way with a courageous 33. John's contribution was again 4, being caught by Willsher off Parr. Needing only 35, the professionals won by 8 wickets.

In the first week of October the University played I Zingari at the Vice Regal Ground. The visitors batted first and were dismissed for 116 before bowling their hosts out for 87. John, opening, was run out for 17, second top score to wicket keeper Kennedy's 18. Eventually left a target of 221, the University struggled to save the game with 60-6, John having gone for 6. He left for India shortly afterwards and was not seen again in major cricket.