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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Owen Fintan Xavier Butler
  • Born 15 September 1975 Dublin
  • Educated Belvedere College, Dublin; University College, Dublin
  • Occupation Banker
  • Debut 25 June 1994 v MCC at Castle Avenue
  • Cap Number 592
  • Style Right hand batsman, right arm fast bowler
  • Teams Old Belvedere, Civil Service

Owen Butler, often known in cricket circles as Buttsy, was seen - in his younger days - as one of the most outstanding fast bowling prospects in Ireland. Tall and dark haired, possessed of an easy action and genuine pace, he attracted the attention of several English counties, having gained his first Irish cap in the same season that he captained the Irish Schools XI. Unfortunately a spate of injuries intervened so that while he remains to the present day a challenging opponent for any batsman to face, besides having developed his batting to become a genuine all rounder, he has never quite fulfilled his early promise.

He attracted notice beyond the "playing fields of Cabra" in 1993 both for Leinster in the Youth Interprovincials and for the Irish Schools XI. For the School side against the ICU President's XI at Castle Avenue in late July he had second innings figures of 2-46 in a closely fought draw . His team-mates included three others who would later play for Ireland in Peter Gillespie, Ryan Eagleson and Kyle McCallan. Two weeks later he was a key member of the Leinster team which made a clean sweep of the AIB interprovincial competition. The outstanding contributors to this victory were slow left armer Greg Molins and batsman Ronan O'Reilly, but Owen was not far behind them. Munster were routed at Sydney Parade, being bowled out for 72. Owen with 3-25 breaching the upper order before Molins with 5-2 finished the job. He also chipped in what was, in reality, the decider at Rathmines when NCU, despite a fine knock from Andy Patterson, were bowled out for 105. Molins had 7-25 but Owen's 2-25 ensured that there was no escape.

The following season, in which he made his full international debut, also saw him captain the Irish School side in Wales and England as well as being part of the Irish U 21 tour of the English West Country. Both his bowling and his captaincy came in for high praise. He "showed that he is destined for greater things if he so wishes", commented Des McCall in the Irish Cricket Annual. On the School tour he had a quiet match against Wales but came into his own against England at Wolverhampton on a ground which apes Castle Avenue by being the alleged site of a battle against the Danes. Just as, however, the opponents at Clontarf were not really all Danes it seems that Wolverhampton's battle took place some half dozen miles eastwards! This made no difference to Owen who had three wickets in each innings and, together with some fine batting from McCallan, was responsible for holding their powerful and more experienced opponents to a draw. His wickets included Andy Bairstow, elder brother of England's new batting sensation, and Anurag Singh, a stylish batsman who was to go on to captain Cambridge University and play for three counties in the course of notching up over 5000 first class runs with 11 hundreds. The match ended with England being set 198 in 20 minutes plus 20 overs. Owen's 3-36 ensured that they did not do so.

He took three wickets in four matches on the West country tour on which, "He confirmed his status as an outstanding prospect as a strike bowler." He was invited to Worcestershire for an extended trial the following season, playing once for the Second XI.

Owen has had a long career in competitive cricket in Leinster though it has been interrupted by injury. Towards the end of his time with Old Belvedere his bowling became somewhat less important partially because of injury problems and, while he could still be relied upon to knock over one or two batsmen at the top of the order, his batting took on a more prominent role. For example against Rush in a Senior League match in 2003, he made an undefeated 45 at No 8 putting on 69 for the 7th wicket with Reinhardt Strydom, which helped take the score to a distinctly useful 205 all out. He then removed Rush opener, keeper-batsman Fintan McAllister, a blow from which they never recovered, slumping to 124 all out.

However it has been during his time with Civil Service, currently in Division 3 of the League, that Owen has blossomed as an all rounder, turning in a number of fine performances some at full senior level in the early season 45 over Dublin Grass machinery League. Thus in 2006 against Dublin University - not it must be confessed the most formidable opposition - Service reached 321-7 off their 45 overs, with Owen, coming in at the fall of the 5th wicket, finishing on 65*, having put on 173 for the 6th with centurion Mubashar Siddique. He then took an early wicket to finish with 1-16, contributing well to a 158 runs win. Captaining the side in 2010, as he had three years earlier, he made a fine, undefeated 76 at No 7 against North County Seconds, easily top score in a total of 202. It was no fault of his that Service failed to reach their target of 318. Last (2011) season he had several notable performances with both bat and ball. For example, in an away league game with Oak Hill he made 61 as Service totalled 276. He then ensured this total was too much for the hosts with analysis of 10-3-17-5 to seal victory by 116 runs. He was again to the fore with the ball in the last match of the season in which Clontarf Seconds were defeated by 113 runs. Owen was largely responsible as his figures of 10-0-34-6 reveal.

His debut for Ireland had come in June 1994 when he joined the side for the MCC match at Castle Avenue which resulted in a comfortable win for the visitors. Owen, joining the team on the day after he finished his Leaving Certificate Examinations, was a late replacement for Gordon Cooke, went wicketless in the first innings but picked up the wickets of both openers in the second though they, "England one cap wonder" Paul Parker and Michael McEvoy, of whom Essex had once had great hopes, had put on a little matter of 124 before m they were separated with McEvoy being caught at the wicket.

In the Benson and Hedges Cup the following season, he formed a promising looking new ball partnership with Mark Patterson. They had little scope against Surrey at The Oval, defending a total of 80 but both impressed against Sussex after a wild start which saw Owen bowl four wides in one over and Patterson's first three balls go for 11 runs. Owen recovered to take 3-53, forcing Carlos Remy into an involuntary jab which spooned up into the safe hands of Alan Lewis at mid off. He also removed big hitting West Indian all rounder Franklin Stephenson, and generally troubled batsmen with his sheer . The two young speedsters were in harness again against Somerset at Eglinton where they caused the county openers Mark Lathwell and Marcus Trescothick some problems but conceded too many runs while they did so. Owen did account for "Tresco" fishing outside the off stump but not before the left hander had 122 runs on the board. The visitors passed 300, and then saw the Irish batting collapse to a varied attack.

After one match in 1996, Owen did not regain his place until 2000 when, however he met with little success. Regarded as "one of the nicest men In Irish cricket" Owen Fintan Xavier Butler may not have lived up to the expectations he once inspired. However he remains, as his recent performances for Civil Service show, a great competitor and one who, despite injuries and other disappointments, has always given much to the game.