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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Thomas James Taylor Patterson
  • Born 25 December 1959 Downpatrick, Co Down
  • Educated Down High School
  • Occupation Bank Official then Financial Advisor
  • Debut 4 July 1984 v Surrey at The Oval
  • Cap Number 553
  • Style Left hand bat; left arm medium fast
  • Teams Downpatrick, NICC

Jim Patterson was a skilful, adaptable and determined cricketer. Tall and strongly built - his nickname of "Big Jim" was no misnomer - he began his career primarily as a bowling all rounder. A hard hitting lower middle order batsman, he was an opening bowler whose speed was somewhat above the medium pace tag that some sources gave it. Like all bowlers of his kind he could run the ball dangerously across a right hander, threatening a catch at the wicket or slip, but he also possessed the priceless attribute of being able to bring the ball back from outside off stump.

By the time he played for Ireland, he was a fully fledged all rounder, according to some now a rather better batsman than bowler, but an injury to his left arm ended his effective bowling days in 1988. Determined to continue he - in Dermot Monteith's words - "reinvented himself as a batsman." He regained his place in the national side and, arguably, played his best innings. "He got better as he got older, " said Monty.

An outstanding schoolboy cricketer, he was three years in the Irish Schools XI for the annual match with Wales. Unfortunately, in his final season - 1978, when he was already a well established senior club and interprovincial payer - a pulled muscle allowed him to bowl only one over in the match. This probably saved the Welsh from defeat as, chasing 220, they finished on 78-9. Jim's best performance in these matches had come on debut when Wales were the visitors at Sydney Parade. The wicket was fast but of uneven bounce. Jim was to the fore as Wales, batting first, could total only 200. His figures 21-5-41-5 show how well he exploited the conditions. Unfortunately, Ireland collapsed for 80 and followed on. They managed to save the match and give the visitors something of a shock in the process.

In 1978, already a Guinness Cup cricketer, he was a key member of The Ulster Country side in the Esso U 19 Cup. That summer was so rain interrupted that UC were unable to get a definite result in any of their matches. Jim was, however, one of their leading batsmen, hitting 53 in the match with Ulster Town. Well supported by Robbie Dennison (49) he saw his side post 181 on a difficult wicket, but the rain came when UT were 28-0 in reply. He also topscored against North West at Ballymena, hitting 40 as consistent batting down the order saw his team reach 233, Garfield Harrison with 39 also batting well. Rain intervened to save North West on 155-9.

Again at age group level, he was vice captain of the Irish side in the Youth Tournament at Toronto in 1979. Ireland reached the final before losing to Bermuda. Jim generally bowled economically and took an early wicket or two. For example in the semi final v The Netherlands, he removed the No 1 for 5, having overall figures of 10-4-14-1. Unfortunately he did not strike early in the Final, but still claimed the wicket of Bermuda captain Charles Marshal, later to be a leading member of Bermuda team in the ICC Trophy and ODIs. As a club cricketer, the vast majority of Jim's playing days were spent with Downpatrick, whom he captained and helped to five NCU Challenge Cup Finals, three of which were won. he also was in two League winning sides.

Unfortunately in 1998, he was one of six senior players who left the Club because of a long running dispute with the committee over selection policy. The committee suspended Jim for six months whereupon he began a libel action against them. This was eventually settled out of court, with Jim receiving costs and undisclosed damages. He was now with NICC, in the famous club's last years, winning one more medal - ironically at The Meadow in 1999.

In all he scored 327 runs in these matches at 27.17 and took 9 wickets at 30.44. His best match as a batsman was also the last Final in which he assisted Downpatrick, against NICC at The Meadow in 1997. Batting first - in what was still a two innings though overs restricted contest - the hosts posted 244-5, owing much to Jim, captaining the side from No 4. He dominated the bowling, revealing all the power of his stroke play, adding over 100 for the third wicket with Geoffery Ferguson. He eventually fell to Simon Redpath, just four short of a richly deserved century. North were 54 behind on the first innings and eventually lost by 65 runs. Jim's best bowling performance in a Final had come in his first such match, against Lisburn at The Meadow in 1977, when he was still at school. As he also made 19 and 14* he made a good all round contribution to the eventual 137 run victory. Downpatrick had begun the match by posting 253-8, Jim being run out off the last ball of the innings. Then, leading the attack superbly for a 17 year old, he returned figures of 21-5-59-4, including the Monteith brothers and Tom McCloy in his bag. Despite some fine off spin from Given Lyness, Lisburn required 316 to win, Jim claiming the wicket of Dermot Monteith early on to make the task well nigh impossible.

An interprovincial regular from 1977 to 1993. Jim scored 801 runs for Ulster Country at 26.70 with 2 fifties. He also had two "5 fors" with the ball. His bowling would have been more impressive had it not been for his injury, while he would surely have scored more runs if, early in his career, he had been placed higher in the order. The first of his two half centuries came against North West at Newforge in 1989. UC batted consistently to reach 255-7 in 60 overs, despite some very accurate and testing overs form Junior McBrine. Jim contributed 52, before Steve Smyth caught him off the left arm quick. Alan Jeffrey. The match ended in a rather tame draw, with Mark Gillespie and "Junior" batting out time. Jim's other fifty, and highest score in the competition, came two years later in a high scoring encounter with North Leinster at Castle Avenue. Batting first the visitors reached a useful 261-5, Jim's 67 was second top score to Uel Graham's 68. He put on 78 for the 4th wicket with Alan Spence, before succumbing to the wiles of Matt Dwyer. North Leinster replied in kind, fine batting by Deryck Vincent and former Ulster Country man, Michael Rea seeing them to a 5 wicket victory.

As a bowler Jim could usually be relied on to pick up two or three wickets but - as already mentioned - managed only two "5 fors" both against Munster and both at The Mardyke. In 1983 UC ran up a vast total of 313-6 but then destroyed the hosts' batting, bowling them out for 75. Jim lead the way with 5-28. Four years later, his haul cost him 44 runs as Munster were bowled out for 153 before losing by 9 wickets. Jim's best all round performance came in a low scoring thriller with Ulster Town at Ormeau in 1984. The hosts batted first but could manage only 153-9 in 60 overs, the combined spin and pace attack of Jim (3-26) and Monteith (3-39) proving difficult to handle. However, after reaching 78-2 - thanks largely to a good innings from Davy Dennison - they collapsed against another pace and spin duo in John Elder and Mike Shannon. Jim defied them to reach 21, a vital effort in the one wicket victory.

For Ireland, he scored 1117 runs at 25.70 in his 40 matches and, at the time of his unfortunate injury, had taken 27 wickets at 25.70. His best innings came late in his career, when he was being played purely for his batting. This was clearly seen on the 1991 tour of Zimbabwe, when he finished second to Alan Lewis in the tour averages at 44.12. However he had shown his ability some years earlier. In only his second match - against Wales at Malahide in 1983, he contributed 49 in 107 minutes with seven 4s to a formidable Irish first innings total, paving the way for a commanding 10 wickets victory.

As a member of the Irish side that toured Zimbabwe in early 1986, he had one memorable bowling performance, which is described below, but also made a brilliant 67 against the ZCU President's XI in a match mostly remembered for a triple hundred from another teenager Graeme Hick and a fine first innings 84 from Davy Dennison. Thanks to Hick, Ireland faced the task of batting for three and a half sessions to save the match. Jim, 0 in the first innings and out of form, batted magnificently for his runs, hitting "a glorious six " into a nearby swimming pool. He was eventually caught behind by yet another teenage star, Andy Flower, and Ireland just failed to save the match. In 1989, returning to the side for two matches at the end of the season and now a batsman only, he headed the averages topscoring in both innings in a disappointing defeat by Wales at Usk. In the second knock, he hit a defiant 63, almost saving the game, as he and Peter Jackson put on 95 for the 7th wicket.

The 1990 Scots match at Watsonians CC's Myreside Ground, Edinburgh, which finished in a somewhat dull draw, is best remembered for the superb bowling of Garfield Harrison 9-113 and for a record Scottish first wicket stand. Jim was, therefore somewhat upstaged, as he chose the occasion to make his highest score for Ireland, sharing the batting honours with Mark Cohen and Angus Dunlop. He finished on 84, having batted 122 minutes and faced 114 balls. He was helped to his score by Jackson in another 7th wicket stand, 110 this time.

As already mentioned he was one of the batting successes of the 1991 Zimbabwe tour. Established in the middle order, he began with hard hitting 77against Mashonaland in 50 over match which ended in defeat by 25 runs. Steve Smyth made 30 but there was little other support forthcoming. However Ireland did much better in the 3 day drawn match with the ZCU President's XI which followed Jim hit 40 and 47, offering good support to Lewis (96) in the first innings and topscoring in the second He was also in top form against a side styled A Zimbabwe XI another 3 dayer which ended in a draw. Facing a score of 35-5, Ireland responded with 231, largely due to Jim's 72. He was again well supported by Jackson in a 7th wicket stand. They reached 86 on this occasion. Jim batted well again in the second innings being 22* at the close. His last score of note at this level came the following summer in the First Class match v Scotland which Ireland won by 95 runs. They owed much to the batting of Jim and Garfield Harrison who came together at 89-4 and took the score to 230 before they were parted. Harrison, scoring the faster of the two was first to go for 77, but Jim remained undefeated at the end of the innings on 73, having faced 179 balls in 222 minutes, hitting one 6 and six 4's.

His best bowling figures for Ireland were achieved on the 1986 Zimbabwe tour. Bowling second change against Matabeland Country Districts at Turk Mine, as John Elder wrote in The Ulster Cricketer Jim "found the breeze and pitch exactly to his liking as he tore through the batting order, capturing six wickets for 27 as the home side were shot out for 87 " At one stage he had 5-5 in 32 balls. He was at it again when the hosts batted for a second time 88 runs in arrears, taking their first two wickets with "two inswinging yorkers." Ireland went on to win by 10 wickets. Jim was never so successful with the ball again but he was always a threat to the batsmen. In the ZCU President's XI match of 1986, he was the only Irish bowler to trouble Hick once the soon to be great batsman was into his stride. Jim, who was also one of the outstanding fielders of the tour, had figures of 21-2-89-3, making him by far the most successful Irish bowler. Added to his fine 67, which had taken the game into its final hour, it makes this match his outstanding all round performance for Ireland.