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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Ian Peter Shields
  • Born 31 October 1979 Comber, Co Down
  • Educated Regent House School, Newtownards; University of Ulster
  • Occupation Director Sports' Goods Business
  • Debut 21 August 1999 v Scotland Ormeau
  • Cap Number 626
  • Style Right hand batsman, wicket keeper
  • Teams North Down

Peter Shields is a member of one of Northern Ireland's best known cricket families whose association with the North Down Club has contributed much to the years of magnificent cricket at The Green. In many ways it might be argued that Peter, son of Ian whose influence both on and off the field has been immense, has contributed the most, not only with his " very talented if not spectacular" right hand batting and international class wicket keeping, but also with his shrewd leadership - there are few better readers of a game - which has seen the Comber trophy cabinet fill to overflowing over the past decade or so.

He was an outstanding schoolboy cricketer- and hockey player, a sport in which he has shone at senior level - at Regent House Grammar School in Newtownards, an institution already well known for its cricket and cricketers by the time Peter joined its numbers. Both his batting and wicket keeping saw him dominate school matches and competitions, while his talent for leadership also emerged at an early stage, as he led his team to win Ulster School Cups at both Senior and Junior levels. He was also involved with cricket at The Green from an early stage and was a member of the North Down sides which won the Graham Cup in 1995 and the Colts' Cup the following season.

His fine performances at school level saw him a member of the Irish Schools side which played England at Chester Boughton Hall CC in July 1997. England won by 182 runs but Peter did not let Ireland down either with the gloves or the bat. Opening the batting, his first innings 37 was top score for Ireland in the match. He faced 108 balls and hit 4 fours. Two years later he led the Ireland U19 side in the European Championships played in the NCU area. They lost to England, who included Matt Prior at No 3, in the final but had done enough to qualify for the U19 World Cup in Sri Lanka that winter. His wicket keeping in the home based competition was highly praised, while, though batting down the order, he made a superb 69 against Denmark at Ballygomartin Road, a match that Ireland won by 32 runs.

In Sri Lanka Ireland struggled against mostly stronger opposition. Thus Australia, who proved far too strong for Ireland, were led by Michael Clarke and included three other future Test men, one of whom, Mitchell Johnson perhaps sowed the seeds for the Barmy Army's unfortunately unrepeatable jingle by sending down eight wides in Ireland's innings. More strong opposition was provided by South Africa for whom Graham Smith and Jacques Rudolph opened the batting while the No 3, not apparently suffering doubts about his nationality at the time, was a certain IJL Trott! Peter did all that was asked of him behind the stumps and his leadership was highly praised.

In 1998 he headed the North Down batting averages but after assuming the captaincy in 2001, succeeding Jo Montgomery, he dropped down to the middle or lower middle order to concentrate on leadership and wicket keeping. The phenomenal results achieved by the Comber side, eight Senior League titles and six Challenge Cup wins are ample proof that this was the correct decision, but there have been several occasions when he has shown just what his side has missed by his choice.

This was never more seen than in the Cup Final of 2001, the last to be played over two innings a side and the last at Ormeau. Winning a rain delayed toss against NICC Peter decided to bat but was soon coming in to join Ryan Haire at 87-3, with Robin Haire and Andrew White back in the hutch. There now followed what Clarence Hiles has described as "a cavalier exhibition of batting." Together with Haire (104*) Peter put on an unbroken 200 for the 4th wicket, the second highest stand for any wicket in a Cup Final. They put on a frenetic 92 in the last 6 overs, which though the hosts fought hard effectively decided the match.

It was the first leg of the League Cup double the first time both trophies had come to The Green in the same year since the days of Willie Andrews. Peter's leadership achievements were to rival those of the Grand Old Man. He also finished second to Regan West in the NCU batting averages in 2005 at 70.14 though he was aided by eight not out innings. Nor should his wicket keeping be forgotten. . Between 2000 and 2010, apart from 2006 when he was fourth, he was either first or second in the NCU wicket keeping table, contesting the honours with Jonathan Bushe.

It was a considerable surprise to cricket followers at The Green and elsewhere when Peter who had led his side every year since that inaugural season, apart from 2006 when Ryan Haire took over, resigned the captaincy following this (2012) season's defeat by Instonians. Some critics thought that his captaincy had not been quite as sharp as usual for several matches but few imagined he would take such a step which he had, he said, decided upon before the Final. It was the increasing demands of his business that forced him to hand over the side to Haire. He had, it seems, contemplated dong so at the end of 2011. It may yet be that he will be seen leading the team out again in a future season as he has not ruled out a return to the captaincy.

Strangely perhaps, Peter has only gained two Irish caps during his long career, which considering his excellence and how his future appeared to have been earmarked, may seem strange. At the time of his brace of appearances there was plenty of competition for the wicket keeping berth in the national side with already capped glovemen in Bushe, Allan Rutherford and Andy Patterson available, to say nothing of red haired left handed batsman/keeper from Park Avenue. He played his two games against Scotland, at Ormeau in 1999 and Ayr the following season. In the latter match he was played solely as an opening batsman. In partnership with Dom Joyce he made 31 in the second innings, having faced 102 balls and hit three 4s. He was, in fact, one of the few Irish batsmen to make any sort of showing in the second innings as they collapsed for 121, squandering a magnificent first innings 150 by Angus Dunlop.

However he was not seen in Irish colours again much as his form deserved it. Apart from the competition for the gloves the reason probably lies in the words of Clarence Hiles who, after reiterating the fact that Peter always wanted to play for Ireland added, "His cricketing heart and soul was at The Green and that's where his focus has remained since he made his senior cricket debut."