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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Nigel Ernest Thompson
  • Born 25 June 1964 Londonderry
  • Educated Limavady High School
  • Occupation Manufacturing Operator, Du Pont
  • Debut 17 July 1988 v Wales Castle Avenue
  • Cap Number 567
  • Style Right-hand bat, right arm medium pace
  • Teams Eglinton, Ardmore, Ballyspallen, Limavady

Nigel Thompson was an exceptional cricketer. Strongly built, dark haired and instantly recognisable by his moustache, he was a hostile medium pacer, the role in which he was primarily seen at national level, but was also a forthright attacking batsman, capable of batting anywhere in the order but probably best suited to No 6 or 7. He is still a formidable opponent today, though his work rather limits his availability.

He first attracted notice as a schoolboy when he was a prominent member of the North West side in the Esso U15 Interprovincial Tournament of 1978. That season it was organised on a regional basis with the NW playing two matches against the NCU while Leinster and Munster also met twice. Nigel with three wickets in each of the first two matches was a key figure in his team reaching the Final. However, somewhat surprisingly, his side lost the Final by 5 wickets to a Munster team for whom Peter Dineen and John Wolf starred. Nigel has had a long and successful career in senior competitive cricket in the North West, though his several moves from Eglinton to Ardmore and back, besides spells with Ballyspallen and Limavady have made his achievements difficult to follow at times.

One of his best seasons was in 1994 when, captaining Ardmore, he led them to their first Senior Cup triumph after 99 years of trying. In the whole season he totalled 564 runs at 26.20 with a highest score of 77* besides taking 53 wickets at 15.72 with best bowling figures of 5-26. The Cup Final was, ironically, against Eglinton. Batting first Ardmore made 163, to which Nigel contributed a second top score 32 to professional Sanjeev Sharma's 55, before being caught at the wicket off Hendy Wallace. Nursing an injury he did not bowl in Eglinton's reply, which left them trailing by 104 runs, but an injury to Gordon Cooke forced him to do so in the second, when, having made a duck in his own second knock, he came on to take 3-30, helping Man of the Match Sharma bring the Cup to Bleachgreen, Eglinton being defeated by 76 runs.

He had, however, fine performances for Eglinton in the Final also. In 1990, he played a leading role in a closely fought match with Brigade which, eventually, saw the Beechgrove side triumph by 2 wickets, though Eglinton's leading men Nigel and professional Hendy Wallace strove mightily to win the game. In the first innings they both passed 40, Nigel making a top score of 49 in an innings in which the only other double figure score was Ivan McMichael's 15, then Hendy (2-32) gave Nigel valuable a support as Brigade were dismissed for 104, Nigel finishing with 5-25. The West Indian was on form again with the bat, his run out for 81 perhaps being the crucial, incident of the match. Needing 197, Brigade scraped home in a dramatic finish, despite Nigel's 4-53, including the removal of dangerman Colin Jeffrey for 54.

In 1995, returned from Ardmore, Nigel shone in a huge 259 runs victory at the expense of Crindle, though Hendy stole the show with a tremendous all round display. Nigel topscored in the first innings of 85 with 61 from 60 balls, Hendy making 45 as the Bleachgreen side posted 285 from their allocated overs. Crindle replied with 107, the professional having 3-32 while Nigel held three catches to dispose of each of the McDaid clan in turn. Hendy then smashed his way to a superb 189, before taking 3-59 as, with Nigel weighing in with 3-63, Crindle were bowled out for 236.

His best performance for Ballyspallen with the bat came in an Irish Senior Cup match against Carrickfergus at home in 2005. This was a low scoring encounter in which, batting first Ballyspallen were dismissed for 178. They owed much to Nigel who, coming in after three wickets had fallen cheaply, batted through the rest of the innings to finish on 68*. The next highest score was 19. Any hopes the visitors had of returning to Co Antrim victorious were then ended by Richard McDaid, taking 7-25 in 9.5 overs. Nigel's batting, however, had made this devastating spell possible. His two seasons with Limavady saw his bowling to the fore, notably in matches each season with Coleraine. In 2010, at John Hunter Field, he had figures of 5-5 as the visitors were dismissed for 76, with McDaid, having also been on the move as far as clubs were concerned, taking 4-32. Their combined attack led to an 8 wickets victory. They bowled their visitors out cheaply again the following year with Nigel having 4-32. Over the two seasons he took 56 wickets at an average of around 18.

He also had a number of outstanding performances at Interprovincial level to his credit, with 1989, in which North West won the title, a particularly successful season. Against Munster at Bready, he made 67*, supporting Ivan McMichael's unbeaten 106, as the hosts piled up 284-6. He then shared the bulk of the wickets with Paul Wallace (3-14) to finish with 4-31 as the visitors collapsed for 91. Later in the season, against Ulster Town at Lodge Road, he and Paul bowled their opponents out for 74 with only Adrian Semple reaching double figures, Nigel's analysis being 7-4-10-4, while his co destroyer had 4-36. He was in good batting form again against South Leinster at Strabane making 60 as he and Ray Moan put on 89 for the 6th wicket, Ray batting through the innings of 313-8 declared to post 116*. To round off the summer Nigel had useful scores of 46* against Ulster Country as he and Junior McBrine (44*) ensured a draw after early wickets had fallen, and 33 against North Leinster at Malahide, helping set up a 2 wickets victory.

His best bowling figures in the competition came against Ulster Country at Deramore two years later. North West had reached 217 thanks to Nigel making 37 supportive of Shaun Bradley's, perhaps unexpected, 91. He then had figures of 16.2-6-71-6, including the important wickets of Ross McCollum and Alan Nelson, the latter as he demolished the tail, while Paul McCrum (19*) watched the carnage from the non-striker's end.

His Irish debut had come against Wales at Castle Avenue in 1988. After Ireland had won the toss, he came in at 226-6 to add an unbroken 81 with Alan Lewis (53). Nigel's share was 33, so with 3 wickets in the match, including that of the Welsh captain and former Glamorgan player Geoff Ellis, he had a promising debut. His 2-23 in the second innings was to remain his best bowling figures for Ireland. Retaining his place for the next match, against Scotland at Dumfries, he was one of the few Irish players to emerge from the game with credit as Ireland were crushed by an innings and 43 runs. Besides taking the wicket of hosts' opening bat Ian Philip to break an opening partnership of 72, he topscored 38 for Ireland in their first innings, adding the 8th wicket with Mike Halliday whose 29* was the second highest score.

He also batted well against the Duchess of Norfolk's XI at Arundel the following season, making 28* at No 8 before Ireland declared on 209-6, a target which Norfolk's XI passed with 3 wickets standing. He also bowled with great accuracy in the Nat West match against Derbyshire at Derby in which Ireland gave the county a real fright, reducing them to 85-7, but a combination of rain, a dropped catch and the pace of Danish exile Ole Mortensen, enabled them to recover. Nigel's figures were 12 - 2 32 - 1, the wicket being that of medium pacer Paul Newman. With the wickets of England ODI players Graham Lloyd, son of "Bumble", and Ian Austin against Lancashire, he had a good season with the ball, finishing with 12 wickets at 34.91, sharing third place in wicket takers with fellow North Westerner Alan Jeffrey.

He was to continue in the Irish side until 1992, continuing to produce useful if not spectacular, performances. He has, of course, recently had the pleasure of seeing his son Stuart complete yet another father/son double in gaining the first, of what it is to be hoped will be many, Irish caps last (2012) season. Nigel Ernest Thompson would challenge for a place in any All Time North West XI and will be long remembered throughout the region as, in Clarence Hiles' words, "A superb all-rounder."