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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Deryck William Harrison
  • Born 3 November 1943 Lurgan, Co Armagh
  • Educated Lurgan College, Co Armagh.
  • Occupation Chemical Sales Representative
  • Debut 27 July 1978 v Denmark at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 532
  • Style Right hand bat.
  • Teams Waringstown

Deryck Harrison was a somewhat unlucky player. A stylish upper order batsman, who usually went in at 3 in the strong Waringstown batting line up, he had the gift of improvisation, which meant that he was rarely tied down. This ability meant that he could, and often did, change the course of a match in a short time. However he was not picked for Ireland until he was nearly 35, ironically this was partly because his elder brother Jim was ensconced in the side, and they were rather similar players. When he got his chance, he played some useful innings, but only rarely showed the brilliance which had the denizens of The Lawn purring with delight week in week out.

Like his quintet of brothers, he was for many years, a vital fixture in the Waringstown side. This was demonstrated both in his batting, and, for several years in his skilful leadership. In both these activities he invariably produced something different, his "effervescent personality" adding much to his ability and acumen.

His skill with the bat was well shown in several NCU Cup Finals. Thus, in 1967, Waringstown began as badly as they could have, with talisman opener Roy Harrison, caught behind for a duck. Enter Deryck to add 166 for the second wicket with Michael Reith, before being run out. Reith went on to his first of two Cup Final tons and Muckamore were defeated by 147 runs. A tough match with Lisburn constituted the 1969 Final. Waringstown had only a slender lead on first innings, and had to contend with a varied attack including not only the spin of Monteith but the hostile pace of Lawrence Hunter. In the second innings Deryck joined brother Roy in a second wicket stand of 110, the best of the match, and again victory was secured.

The 1970 Final, again against Lisburn, with Deryck now captain, was according to the village's first historian Michael Maulstaid, "a dour struggle." With "Monty" in top form with the ball runs were very hard to come by, until, that is, Deryck's second innings. According to Maulstaid, "He immediately began to score runs all round the wicket and, in a little over an hour, scored a sparkling 48 not out before Waringstown declared." He was to lead them to victory again in 1971, 1973, and, after a long break, 1986. In the 1971 game v Downpatrick, on the latter's ground, he made a brisk 55*, putting on 70 for the fourth wicket with Ivan Anderson in 36 minutes, and then declaring at a record 266-4.

Waringstown did not enter the Irish Senior Cup in its first year, 1982, but reached the final the following season, playing NICC at Ormeau. On a rain affected wicket, they slumped to 31-4, before Deryck (60) added 133 in 87 minutes with Reith to set up victory.

In 1969, he joined brothers Jim and Roy in the NCU side that took on a Pakistan team of near Test strength, under the banner of Pakistan International airlines, at Shane Park. Deryck, emulated brother Jim in reaching double figures in each innings, but the Test class attack, skilfully directed by veteran skipper, and pre Lara first class batting record holder, Hanif Mohammed, was too much for the NCU batsmen. No member of the Harrison family was ever satisfied with a brace of low scores, but Deryck's 11 and 23, were better than some of his more fancied colleagues produced on those two hot August days.

In the Guinness Cup Deryck represented Ulster Country from 1966 to 1983, playing on 49 occasions. Rather surprisingly, he failed to pass 1000 runs, finishing on 862 at 26.93 with six 50s. One of his best seasons was 1978, when, Jim having retired from internationals, he was eventually capped for Ireland. He hit his highest score 83* v Munster, in a match left drawn despite 6-43 from Monteith and also made 58 in the final match of the season v North West. He finished with 210 runs at 42.20. The following season, he averaged over 60 as Ulster Country won the Cup, but though he played several good innings, this average was partly due to a number of not outs. In 1980, Ulster Country, partly for metrological reasons, slumped in the table, but he played a fine innings of 76* to help record a 7 wicket win over South Leinster.

As we have seen his Irish call up came, possibly too late, in July 1978 against Denmark. He had a useful second inning stand of 40 with Ginger O'Brien to ensure that Ireland's first innings lead was not squandered after openers Reith and Jack Short had gone cheaply. In 1979 he was left out of the side until the match at Ormeau v Freddie Millett's XI. He then came in as a replacement for the unavailable Anderson. Sending a message to the selectors, he top scored in Ireland's first innings, with 74*, putting on an unbroken 107 for the 4th wicket with RI Johnston, enabling Monteith to declare. In the second Ireland needed 165 in 64 minutes plus 20 overs. He supported O'Brien well in 3rd wicket stand of 67, and with Tommy Harper also contributing, Ireland got home with 19 balls to spare.

He was to hit one other half century for Ireland, 54 in Ireland's 10 wicket win over Wales at the beautiful Marchwiel ground later in the season. Ireland, facing a score of 141 by their hosts, slumped to 66-4, then numbers 5, 6 and 7 all made 50s, Deryck putting on 95 for the 6th wicket with Monteith. The other batting achievement of the match rightly belonged to John Elder. He not only hit his top score, 28, but made his 50th run for Ireland. He also took his 50th wicket! Thereafter Deryck failed to pass 20 in any of his remaining five matches before being discarded after the Gillette Cup match with Middlesex in 1980. It is true that, apart from Middlesex, these games included such tough opposition as Worcestershire, below full strength, and the West Indies, but, while it is possible to agree with Clarence Hiles that Deryck was "prematurely discarded", it could also be argued that he had given the selectors some cause.

When Waringstown won the Irish Senior Cup in 1983, the ICU Yearbook attributed their victory to their, "ability, fighting spirit and tactical acumen." No better description could be found to sum up the career of one of their most outstanding players, Deryck William Harrison.