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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Ernest Jones
  • Born circa 1950 England
  • Occupation Electrician
  • Debut 28 May 1986 v India at Ormeau
  • Cap Number 563
  • Style Right hand batsman; right arm medium fast
  • Teams Horwich and RMI CC (Bolton League), Phoenix, Leinster

Ernie Jones, the centre of many stories most of which are unrepeatable, was a strongly built right arm bowler whose pace was around about medium fast. He was always accurate and economical but his somewhat low arm prevented him from really swinging the ball. However he developed an effective leg cutter which made him a formidable bowler in Dublin cricket in the mid 1980s. As a batsman he was a lower order hitter, using plenty of bottom hand in his shots. Usually at no 8, he generally produced two or three really effective innings a season.

Ernie, about whose birth date and education we would welcome information, arrived in Dublin from the North of England in rather mysterious circumstances in 1979, having been playing for the Bolton League side Horwich and RMI. Horwich, which is possibly better known in the sporting world as the new home of Bolton Wanderers FC, is a strong club which now runs three teams as well as age group sides. It did not, however, provide its 1970s players with any knowledge of Irish cricket, Ernie having no idea of the game in Dublin or elsewhere in the country when he arrived. Here he was in good company with, for example, Jeremy Bray, who did not come to Ireland for cricketing reasons and whose knowledge was similarly scanty. Ernie first saw Irish cricket while walking in Phoenix Park, joining the Club that he saw playing. Had his walk taken him a few yards further perhaps he would have become the scourge of batsmen in the lower divisions!

He began with Phoenix as an opening bowler but economy rather than wicket taking was his hallmark. Opening the attack, he often saw wickets fall to the outswing of Rod Young and, further, was frequently denied a second spell as the spin of Mike Halliday and Stan Oakes tended to dispose of those who had not succumbed to Young. Though Ernie played in the Cup Final of 1979 - which Phoenix won with some ease thanks to a century from Gerry Murphy- he became increasingly frustrated with his lot at Phoenix and left for Leinster in 1981. We may note that he was in the Phoenix side which played Somerset as part of the Club's 1506h anniversary celebrations in 1980. Ernie had two wickets, one being that of county captain Brian Rose, who that summer he hit two fifties for England against the awe inspiring West indies pace attack.

Joining Leinster, Ernie immediately found good form, though he was used as a first change bowler until the 1985 season. This did not prevent him from becoming one of the best on the LCU circuit. Thus in 1984 he had 38 wickets at 16.89 and helped Leinster carry off both the Wiggins Teape and Belvedere Bond League titles. They lost the Senior Cup Final to YMCA. The following season he had 51 wickets at 10.60, helping Leinster to win the Cup defeating Merrion by 3 wickets, in a close fought game at Anglesea Road. He was the best bowler of the day with figures of 3-11. His bowling at club and interprovincial level that summer caused Irish Cricket magazine to ponder, "what reasons the selectors have for omitting him from the Irish side."

Between 1981 and 1986 he was by far the most effective bowler for South Leinster in the Guinness Cup. With six five wicket hauls and never failing to trouble the best opposition batsmen, he was one of the leading and most consistent bowlers in the country. His best figures were obtained in a remarkable spell of 20.3-5-42-7 against the North West at Kimmage in 1984 - a season in which he helped South Leinster to the title with 14 wickets at 12.14 though the opposition had already experienced Ernie at his best at Eglinton in 1981 when he had figures of 5-49. In both matches he was largely responsible for his side's victory.

We may also note a 6-26 against Ulster Country at Rathmines in 1985 - when his wickets included those of Charlie McCrum, Jim Patterson, Garfield Harrison and Ross McCollum, no bad quartet! That season he also had 5-38 against Ulster Town, Steven Warke, Robert Wills and Robin Haire being among his victims. He finished with 12 wickets at 12.25, the most successful bowler in the competition. Even in 1986 when, though he was finally selected for Ireland, some thought his form declined, he had 6-30 against Munster and, ending as he had begun, signed off his interprovincial career troubling the North West with 4-30. This put him second in the interprovincial averages with 17 wickets at 11.29.

1986 Ireland v India: Ernie Jones opened the bowling on his debut for Ireland

Ernie's selection for Ireland in 1986 was not well received in every quarter but was certainly deserved. His debut match against India at Ormeau was ruined by rain, which stopped play when the visitors had reached 57-3, Ernie, opening the attack with Simon Corlett, having figures of 7-1-22-1, clean bowling wicket keeper Chandra Pandit for 8. The teams than moved on to Downpatrick, where the weather was kind and Ireland came close, losing by only 9 runs. Ernie played his part in this, removing Raman Lamba, who certainly needs no introduction, for 3, having him caught at the wicket.

He retained his place for the two matches against Yorkshire at Malahide which followed closely on the heels of the Indian games. He had two good wickets in the first encounter removing the only two batsmen who really got set, Jim Love, once talked of as a Test player, who did play 3 ODIs for England, being caught by Junior McBrine for 76 and former England wicket keeper David Bairstow, the captain, bowled for 71. His main claim to fame that day though, came with the bat as, at No 11, he played his only innings for Ireland. Jim Love was a fine batsman but a very ordinary medium pacer who finished with a first class bowling average of nearly 70. Nevertheless he came on at the end of the Irish innings and took 2 wickets in 2 balls. Enter Ernie to stop the hat trick ball and smash the next one for 6. He finished on 8*. In the second match he failed to take a wicket and was not picked again. However he topped Ireland's averages, taking his 4 wickets at 29.25.

Ernie Jones was a bowler of considerable skill and a rare if controversial character. As stated above information which would help to fill in the gaps in this biography would be most welcome.

I am much indebted to Brian Buttimer for help with biographical information.