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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Stanley Lyons Mitchell
  • Born 19 October 1946 Cullion, Co Tyrone
  • Educated Foyle College, Queen's University
  • Occupation General Manager - Dublin Grass Machinery
  • Debut 21 June 1974 v Netherlands at ACC Amstelveen
  • Cap Number 526
  • Style Left hand batsman
  • Teams Donemana, Queen's University, Phoenix

Stan Mitchell was a very good left hand batsman who won Senior Cup medals in two of Ireland's provincial unions and led his side to the runner's up spot in a third. An outstanding schoolboy cricketer at Foyle College, it was no surprise that he was chosen for the Irish Schools XI in the first of the long series of matches with their Welsh counterpart. Played at The Mardyke in July 1964 it resulted in a narrow victory for the visitors whose captain Paul Goode of Cardiff High School scored the first century of the series. Stan, at No 1, made 36 and 32, putting on 59 for the first wicket with Monsell Heaslip of Campbell College in the first innings. As Ireland went down by only 15 runs, Stan's unfortunate run out in the second was possibly crucial.

Few who saw the game would have predicted that they were watching two future Irish Cricket Union Presidents in Stan and RBAI off spinner Gavin Craig who bowled very well in Wales' second knock to take 7-51.

By the time of this match, Stan was already an accomplished senior cricketer, having been a member of the Donemana side which had pulled off the treble in 1963 winning the NWCU Cup and League and Faughan Valley Cup that season.

Their Senior Cup Final win, by 9 wickets over Strabane, was followed by an equally convincing one the following season, when Brigade were defeated by 74 runs. Stan was again in the side but it was a magnificent all round display by John Cochrane that kept the trophy in the Sperrins.

On entering Queen's Stan was a certainty for the XI and was captain in 1969, leading them to a Cup Final with NICC. This was a tense and low scoring game which the University lost by 52 runs. Most of their batsmen, including Stan - coming in at 4 - struggled against the North attack led by Stanley Hewitt with the spin attack of Given Lyness and Sonny Hool completing an international trio. However Stan's best innings in the Cup had come three years earlier in a first round match against Muckamore. Chasing 183, to which the inevitable Archie McQuilken had contributed 61, Queen's won by 5 wickets. Stan had taken total charge at one end, finishing on a well deserved, undefeated 101.

In the 70s Stan Mitchell was lost to Ulster cricket except as an opponent . Moving to Dublin he became a vital member of the poweful Phoenix side which, after long years in the wilderness in the 50s and 60s took the Leinster Senior Cup six times in the new decade, five of the wins being in succession. Stan was captain in 1975, when they also won the 40 over Wiggins Teape League and the Senior League, the 5 wickets Cup Final win over Leinster giving them a grand slam every bit as impressive as Donemana's. He was in charge again the following season when the Cup was retained with a 2 wickets victory over the same opponents.

The Phoenix History (1980) praises his "astute leadership." His best Final with the bat was in 1979, the last of the five successive titles, when Carlisle were defeated by 98 runs. Despite half centuries from Dennis Jacobson and Mark Cohen, Carlisle were never really in the hunt, chasing a score of 295-7 which was built on a brilliant hundred from Gerry Murphy and a fine 78 from Stan. He was also in the Phoenix side that won the Irish Senior Cup (then the Schweppes) in 1986 defeating, ironically, Donemana by 9 wickets with Alf Masood and Murphy making light of a none too difficult target. In all Leinster senior matches for Phoenix, Stan scored 6205 runs at 23.50, hitting one century (104) and 32 other scores of over 50. His Phoenix career covered 22 seasons, finishing in 1993.

He also played 12 seasons of interprovincial cricket starting with Ulster Town, while at University and then, after his move south, with North Leinster whom he captained in 1978. It would probably be true to say that his scores were useful rather than outstanding, he was never one of the heaviest run getters in the competition.

In only his second match however, rain having prevented him from batting in his first, he made 43 in an 8 wickets win over his native North West at Ballygomartin Road, while in a low scoring match at Shane Park in 1969, he opened the batting and top scored with 37 to help UC to a total of 190. Their opponents, South Leinster collapsed against the pace of Tim English for 92, reaching this total thanks only to a superb 62* from Gerry Duffy. Among Stan' s most useful innings for North Leinster could be mentioned a 44 v Munster in a draw at The Mardyke with the hosts just managing to play out time, and 38 on an uncertain wicket at Malahide against Ulster Country in 1976. Easily the hosts top score it was one of the best innings of the match second only to typically commanding century from Ivan Anderson, the only batsman who really looked at home.

Stan's three Irish caps, plus an appearance in a non cap one day match, came in 1974. In all of these he batted usefully - on one occasion vitally - without, perhaps quite doing enough to seal his place.

Against the Netherlands at Amstelveen he was one of three debut makers, the other two, Simon Corlett and Jack Short, were to have rather longer tenures of their places. Short was, in fact the batting hero of a closely fought match which Ireland won by 3 wickets, making 71 and 55. However Stan's contributions should not be forgotten. In the first innings, facing a home score 194, Ireland had reached 137-3 when he came in. He stayed to make a well compiled 41 before being caught off opening bowler RF Onstein. The later batsmen did little, Ireland finishing on 226. His second innings 21, caught by Onstein off leg spinner Smit, was an important contribution to the 225-7 which brought victory.

At Rathmines, in the next match, Ireland lost by 59 runs to a somewhat ordinary MCC side, which did, however, include Roy Marshall, formerly of West indies and Hampshire. He made 57 in an MCC first innings of 287 but Ireland were than reduced to 30-5 before Stan, who had come in at 26-4 was joined by his captain Alfie Linehan. They added 48 before leg spinner RT de Ville had Stan lbw for 33. He had ensured that his side gained some sort of respectability. They finished on 167. He failed in the second innings, falling to the of spin of Freddie Millett, long time captain of Cheshire and friend of Irish cricket in those difficult years. The match having begun on a Saturday, a one day non cap match was played at College Park on the Sunday. It ended in a tie, Stan having made 22 before falling lbw to former Sussex all rounder David Mordaunt.

Stan retained his place for the Scots match at Perth, where after failing in the first innings to seamer Frank Robinson, he made a vital 27 in the second putting on 49 for the 4th wicket with Short. The stand had begun at 6-3 so was of great importance in bringing about a 52 run victory. Ireland were not to win on Scottish soil again until 2005, Stan, as ICU President, was there!

He did not play for Ireland again though, as we have seen, he continued to appear for Phoenix for almost 20 years. When he finally retired he became involved in administration, serving as an Irish selector and, as stated above, being President of the Irish Cricket Union in 2005, the year that Ireland staged the ICC Trophy and gained qualification for the World Cup of 2007, with never to be forgotten results. ICU Secretary the late John Wright had special praise for Stan in his annual report. He had "an incredible year in office" and was "a first class ambassador for Irish cricket." He has also, in recent years had the pleasure of seeing his son Robert follow him into the Phoenix side.

Away from cricket he runs his successful Dublin Grass Machinery business.