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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Mark William Patterson
  • Born 2 February 1974 Belfast
  • Educated Belfast Royal Academy; University of Ulster
  • Occupation Professional Cricketer / Insurance Official / Teacher
  • Debut 25 April 1995 v Sussex at Hove
  • Cap Number 598
  • Style Right-hand bat, right-arm fast
  • Teams Cliftonville, Surrey, Surrey County Board, Bedfordshire, Mount Manguani CC (New Zealand,) MCC

Mark Patterson, tall dark haired and strongly built, was a bowler of genuine pace, one of the fastest ever to appear for Ireland. Bowling a vicious inswinger, he had the ability to defeat batsmen of any calibre, but in his time on the Surrey staff struggled to break through into the county side, and never, in his 42 Irish matches, did he achieve a "5 for." There were of course several perfectly good reasons for this. He had a nagging and recurring back injury, which - for the technically minded - he described in the 1999 "Cricketers' Who's Who" as being " to the sacroliac joint of the back." This eventually forced him out of the professional game. Also a high percentage of his internationals were limited overs matches, making it hard to obtain five wicket hauls.

Critics, however, found other reasons. He was prone to bowling wides and, according to one profile, "He was accused of not having a Plan B when batsmen got on top of him."

His career began with high promise. The son of Billy Patterson, a well known Cliftonville player, he was an outstanding sportsman at BRA, always a fine nursery of cricketers, being joined in the XI there, and later elsewhere, by his younger brother Andy, a wicket keeper/batsman of high talent. Selection for Irish Schools and Ireland Under 19 followed, while performances for School and Cliftonville pitched him into Ireland U21, while still playing for the lower age group side. Thus in 1992, he played for the U21 side against the Irish Universities in College Park, before taking part in the Scottish tour. His best figures came against the Universities, when with three in each innings he finished with match figures of 6/55, sweeping away the top three in the order in the second innings to play a leading role in a 127 runs victory. On entering University to read Sport and Leisure Studies, he became a member of the Irish Universities XI, having, for example, a good all round match against English Universities (Midlands) in 1955 taking 3-55 wrapping up the middle order and then making 55 second top score to Andy's 65, but still seeing his side go down by 84 runs.

Cliftonville had also played a leading part in his development, through the expert coaching of professional John Solanky, formerly of East Africa and Glamorgan. Solanky had institued a youth policy at the Club, which had resulted in the emergence of a group of young cricketers of high talent, including not only Mark, but also his brother Andy and Kyle McCallan. They had helped win trophies at 3rd and 4th XI level and in 1994 were on hand when the senior side finished 4th in Section 1 of the Ulster Bank League. Their success was based on a formidable three prong attack of professional Kamal Merchant, Andy Clement and Mark, who took 30 wickets at 18.93.

He did, of course also represent Ulster Town and Northern Cricket Union at interprovincial level. One of his best returns came for the latter against North West at Eglinton in a rain affected match in 1996. He had 4-39 as NW reached 170-8 in the 27 overs bowled in 135 minutes cricket, Mark sending down nine wides but claiming the vital wickets of Steve Smyth and Decker Curry. Despite a fine 57 from Steven Warke, the visitors went down by one run.

Mark's Irish debut had come the previous year in a disastrous Benson and Hedges match with Surrey, but he was soon attracting interest from county sides. In all he took 56 wickets for Ireland at 27.88. One of his most impressive matches came later in his debut season when Ireland took on Yorkshire in a Nat West Trophy match at Headingly. The hosts batted first and were soon 31-3, with Ryan Eagleson sending back Michael Vaughan and David Byas, while Mark exploiting Michael Bevan's weakness against the short ball, finished the Australian "finisher" having him caught by Smyth at cover. Centuries by Simon Kellett and Craig White followed but Mark then had the England man caught by Michael Rea and clean bowled Darren Gough for 0. Peter Hartley was dropped at slip off the last ball of Mark's spell. He finished with 3-66 from his 12 overs.

The rest of his Irish career saw two four wicket hauls. The first against Wales at Rathmines in 1996 cost him 56 runs, but he was arguably more impressive with two three wicket matches later in the season. Against the ECB Amateur XI in the "Triple Crown" he had 3-16, destroying the top order and winning the Man of the Match award. Later in the summer, in the then unofficial European Championship at Copenhagen, his 3-21 against Italy saw Nos 2, 3 and 4 sent back to the pavilion. In both these matches he was far too quick for the opposition. An automatic choice for Ireland's squad for the ICC Trophy in Malaysia the following year, it was no fault of his that Ireland finished 4th, thus just failing to qualify for the World Cup.

Against Gibraltar in the first match of the tournament, Ireland rattled up 278-2, before bowling first change, Mark shattered the opposition with 4-22, taking his wickets in 4 overs. Later in the competition, on a day of oppressive heat he had figures of 10-2-27-3 to bowl Singapore out for 110. Unfortunately his 10 overs included 9 wides! The tournament also saw his highest score for Ireland, a tantalising glimpse of what he might have produced more often. Chasing a USA score of 212, Ireland were in trouble with overs running out and a score of 159-7 on the board. Helped by Garfield Harrison and Greg Molins, Mark made light of the task. His 27* included two 6s and two 4s, coming off just 16 balls. Injury and professional commitments then kept him out of the Irish side until 2001, though he did represent Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth Games, again in Malaysia, the following year.

On his return to the Irish side he went wicketless in the three matches he played, but was chosen for the ICC Trophy in Toronto. This was a tournament that most Irish cricketers would probably rather forget, Mark being no exception. He took only three wickets in 29 overs and bowled 36 wides.

His Surrey career began in 1996. He was to play only two first class matches, but played a number of Matches in the Second XI Championship and One Day Trophy, He also played for the Surrey County Board XI. in the Minor Counties One Day Trophy. His best performance for the last named side came against Middlesex County Board at Uxbridge in 1998, and was as a batsman. Coming in at 5, he hit a belligerent 106 as Surrey CB reached 407-8 off 60 overs. He then took 2 wickets to ensure victory.

His best performance for the County side came on first class debut, when he had an impressive 6-80 against a powerful South Africa A side, setting a Surrey record for a debutant. His wickets included current or future Test men in Herschelle Gibbs, John Commins, Lance Klusener and Meryck Pringle. He had 1-44 in the second, another Test man Gehardus Liebenburg being his victim. He opened the bowling with Chris Lewis, leading Surrey on this occasion.

Otherwise his first class appearances were limited to one championship Match at Trent Bridge. He did, however, have several useful appearances for the seconds. In 1997, in which season Andy was also to be seen in the side, he had an impressive 6-80 against Middlesex in a drawn match at Cheam, sharing the new ball with Alex Tudor, and clean bowling Middlesex captain Ian "Gunner" Gould, now one of the best umpires in the game.

However his most impressive work was done for Bedfordshire in the Minor Counties Championship, after injury had forced him out of the professional game. He played for 4 years from 2002, being most impressive in his first two seasons. Thus, in a side which included not only brother Andy, but also as wicket keeper James Knott, son of the great Alan, who had also been in the Surrey 2nd XI and, a teenage opener called Alastair Cook, he formed a formidable new ball partnership with Lancastrian Shaun Rashid. According to Wisden Mark "tore in at a terrifying pace" and "spurred Rashid to do the same." Mark took 20 wickets at 26.95. He had two "5 fors", his best figures 5-54 against Cambridgeshire at Luton. Bedfordshire finished 4th in the Eastern Division. The following season, with Rashid having gone to Sussex, where he made no first class appearances, Mark bowled "192 overs of genuine pace"(Wisden) to take 23 wickets and lift his county one place in the table.

He was never the same force consistently again, but had a remarkable all round match against Cornwall in the trophy the following season, when he struck 106 before being run out and then took 3-16 to help achieve a fine victory. Back from the south coast Rashid had 4-23!

Mark, a fine all round sportsman gained coaching qualifications not only in cricket, but also in football, rugby, basketball, swimming and squash. He is also a qualified football referee. Having taught for sometime in Ipswich, he returned home and played again for Cliftonville. As late as this summer (2010) he played for MCC against Ireland a at College Park.

He is profiled in Siggins and Fitzgerald" Ireland's 100 Cricket Greats."