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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Thomas Alan Parker
  • Born 14 June 1944 Dublin
  • Educated St Andrew's College, Dublin; Dublin University
  • Occupation Insurance Broker
  • Debut 12 June 1976 v MCC at Mardyke Cork
  • Cap Number 529
  • Style Right hand batsman, right arm medium fast.
  • Teams Pembroke, Dublin University

Alan Parker was a thoroughly good cricketer. Tall, fair haired and strongly built, he was a tireless medium fast bowler, able to move the ball through the air and off the wicket. A top class all rounder when at school, where he gained representative honours, he was later regarded as a tailend batsman, but, with upright stance and a strong off and straight drive, he was a very formidable one, often producing runs at vital moments. He would certainly have been the type of player to warm Duncan Fletcher's heart. He began for Pembroke while still a schoolboy at St Andrew's, and, with a brief interlude during two University summer terms, was to play for the Sydney Paraders for twenty years until his decision to emigrate to Canada. He took 572 wickets in League and Cup cricket for them at 15.46 with eighteen five wicket hauls. His brief sojourn in College Park, saw a further 36 wickets and three more "5 fors", so that he finished with 608 at 15.13. He also aggregated a very respectable 3528 runs for Pembroke at 16.10 with a highest score of 80.

Entering Dublin University in 1962, he was peripheral member of the XI the following summer, but gained a regular place in 1964. This was no mean achievement. The University side in those days was dominated by English public schoolboys, and it was very difficult for a local player to break into the side. In 1963, for example only Alan and the left arm quick Adrian Naughten were Irish born, and Naughten, having been educated at Beaumont College in Berkshire and with his heart set on a British Army career, hardly counted as a local. Incidentally, he was to have a highly successful career in the Army in both military and cricket terms, finishing as a Brigadier, and one of the best cricketers in the Armed Services. In 1964, besides Alan and Adrian there was Gerry Murphy, but beyond them, the Irish representation remain slight for several more seasons.

Alan, however, played a major part in the Cup Final win over Merrion at Castle Avenue in 1963. He only came into the side as substitute as several of the team, having enjoyed a memorable tour of England, had run out of money and had to return home. They, on a personal note it must be confessed, included the scorer/umpire! Derek Scott in the 1964 Wisden, described the match as, "The most exciting final since the competition began in 1935." Merrion won the toss and made 156, with Alan taking 5-30. The University upper order crumbled to the pace of Rodney Bernstein, collapsing to 58-6. Then Naughten, who had been one of the successes of the tour, joined the wicket keeper Chris Anderson, son of a Tipperary educated Church of England vicar, to add 90, before the future Brigadier was out. Enter Alan with 19 needed. Amidst mounting excitement, he made light of Bernstein's speed, to finish on 13* and see his team to their third successive Cup.

The following summer saw him a regular in the side. He had two "5 fors" in the League and a notable performance in early May against Stuart Pollock's XI. Pollock always brought a strong side, the cricket was keen, though the weather was frequently bleak. This match was no exception. The University batted first and collapsed to the off spin of Given Lyness and the still formidable medium pace of the old Worcestershire and England paceman Reg Perks. The score was around 70-9 when Alan joined left arm spinner Dave Garst. Garst was an American, who had learned the game at Eastbourne College in Sussex; his batting, however, spoke more of ballpark than College Park. Together they more than doubled the score, being severe on Perks, and defying Lyness, to enable a declaration on 152-9. Alan had one first innings wicket, then, in the second, as the visitors chased 168, he had the best figures of the innings 3-20, including Pollock, still a fine player and Perks, who was treating us to some of his famous heaves over long on which used to scatter Worcestershire members in the New Road pavilion. Pollock's side finished on 92-8. However Alan returned to Pembroke for the following season.

He was to help them to three successive Cup Finals 1972 - 74, playing a leading role in the first two, though the second ended in defeat. The 1972 match v Malahide at Sydney Parade was the first limited overs contest. On a seam friendly wicket, Alan and George Mellon each took 4-31 to put Malahide out for a paltry 79.

However Malahide also had a bowler well capable of using the conditions, Dougie Goodwin, who proceeded to take 6-9. Pembroke would have gone down had it not been for Alan, who, again showing his penchant for making vital runs in Cup Finals, topscored with 28, by far the highest score of the match. Pembroke squeezed home by 1 wicket. The following year at Rathmines against Phoenix, he topscored again with 37 as his team-mates foundered against Mike Halliday's off spin, but sound batting by David Pigot saw the northsiders home by 7 wickets.

Alan played fairly regularly for South Leinster in the Guinness Cup between 1967 and 1976, turning in several useful bowling performances as well as reminding the Dublin cricket public that his batting was sometimes underestimated. His first two wickets, in defeats at the hands Ulster Town and North West respectively, were those of Charlie Corry and Brendan Donaghey, which was no bad way to start. His best bowling figures came in his third match when he had 6-46 against Munster at the Mardyke. He included leading batsmen Jim Kiernan and Pat Dineen in his haul, besides having paceman Dennis Leng stumped by Harry Hill. Hill, one of the best uncapped wicket keepers, stood up to most bowling, though Alan was no easy matter to take in this position.

He had several three wicket hauls, two more notable performances were 4-46 at the Mardyke in 1974, when by removing the hosts top order including the prolific pair of Dineen and Leo Durity he set up a 71 run victory and a 4-54 against North West at Sion Mills in 1975, when he removed veteran Aubrey Finlay early on, and later had that dangerous hitter Roy Torrens caught by Gerry Duffy without scoring. His final match v North Leinster at Castle Avenue in 1976 also saw a good performance. He took 3-44, including Pigot and Alec O'Riordan, and also held two catches. This set up a win which an undefeated century stand between Ian Lewis and Ginger O'Brien completed.

He also had several useful innings in the lower order. One of the most valuable was at the Mardyke in 1972 as Munster almost pulled off a surprise win. The hosts reached 210-5 with Jim Kiernan and Jack Short both passing 50. The visitors then struggled but Alan batting at 10, topscored with 34*, making the game safe in partnership with Rodney Molins (31). South Leinster finished on 151-8. Two of his other noteworthy knocks came in a losing cause. In 1974 against North Leinster, he batted at 6 and was second top score with 34 to enable his side reach 192-9. He then removed Ray Daly and Enda McDermott, but was unable to prevent the North winning by two wickets. Against the same opposition the following summer, he took the wickets of Pigot and classy left hander Noel Grier, to dismiss the North for 125. However the South batting then crumbled. They were all out for 67, Alan having topscored with 28 at 8. Only YMCA's Eddie Lewis with 20 and Railway Union keeper, Des Byrne with 10, also reached double figures. Alan's two cap matches for Ireland both came in 1976, though he also played two non cap limited overs games v Scotland in 1975 and 1976, being 16* as Ireland narrowly lost in the former year.

His debut proper was v MCC at the Mardyke, a match described by Dermot Monteith as, "The most gruelling match I have ever played." The MCC side was strong, the wicket perfect, and the weather, according to Monty, produced, "tropical conditions of 90 - 100 degrees." Alan, a late replacement for Torrens made 53*, putting on 66 for the 8th wicket with Ginger O'Brien. Alan batted 73 minutes hitting three 4s and two 6s. Though O'Riordan was injured Ireland were able to enforce the follow on, but thereafter the conditions overcame them and the visitors had little trouble in drawing the match. Alan took two second wickets, those of former Northants and Leicestershire opener Mick Norman, who scored almost 17500 first class runs with 24 hundreds and a highest score of 221*, and RM James, who twenty years earlier had made headlines as a Cambridge Freshman, by scoring a century against the Australians, defying Ray Lindwall, Ron Archer and Richie Benaud in the process.

Alan retained his place for the Netherlands match at Downpatrick, the first in which Monteith led the side as O'Riordan was still injured. With Torrens back to share the new ball with Simon Corlett, Alan did not do much bowling, but, in the second innings, at 7 as Ireland pressed for the declaration that won them the match, he made 33*, sharing in an unbroken 6th wicket stand of 83 with Gerry O'Brien who finished on 74.

He continued to play for his club for a further three seasons, before his decision to continue his life on the far side of the Atlantic.