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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
David Trent Johnston
  • Born 29 April 1974 Wollongong New South Wales
  • Educated St Joseph's Catholic High School, Wollongong
  • Occupation Professional Cricketer and Coach
  • Debut 5 May 2004 v Surrey at Castle Avenue
  • Cap Number 644
  • Style Right hand bat, right arm fast medium bowler
  • Teams Dapto CC, Illawara, NSW Country, Campbelltown, North Sydney, Mosman, New South Wales, Horsney, Carlisle, Leinster, Clontarf, Railway Union, YMCA

Trent Johnston, who has now reached the end of his remarkable career, will always be remembered as one of the best cricketers ever to have represented Ireland. Few would deny him a place in any All Time Ireland XI for his whole hearted and highly effective fast medium bowling and his hard hitting batting in the lower middle order.

Tall, dark haired and strongly built, He had, as he joined his team-mates in celebrating the treble achieved at Dubai, played 198 matches for his adopted country scoring 198 runs at 21.75 and taking 259 wickets at 23.52. Undoubtedly these figures, which rank him Ireland's fourth most successful all rounder, trailing McCallan, Botha and Kevin O'Brien, would be even more impressive had it not been for injury and a - happily - brief retirement from the international game. He also ranks as Ireland's third most successful captain, an area where his influence has been immense, and eighth in the table of catchers with 71, rising to fourth with wicket keepers removed.

His career began in the New South Wales town of Wollongong. His school, St Joseph's, did not then play cricket, but happily for Ireland's future, he was born into a cricket family. His father and three uncles all played competitive cricket as did one of his maternal uncles who had a triple hundred in NSW country cricket to his credit. Trent followed them in the various grade sides of the local Dapto Club, originally batting at 8 or 9 and keeping wicket. However as he grew taller and stronger, glovework was abandoned in favour of fast bowling. He also found time to be a prominent Rugby League player at first five eight (out half), centre or full back, developing a reputation as a powerful goal kicker.

First grade cricket for Dapto in his late teens saw him play district cricket, first for Illawara, then for the NSW Country XI. Among several fine performances at this level we might note one against South Australia Country at Canberra in the annual tournament for the "country" sides in January 1994. In a two day game the Southerners batted first and made 162, Trent, coming on second change, having figures of 9-2-29-4. Then he came in at the fall of the seventh wicket, to add 108 with Mike Gertis (118). When Gertis fell, Trent took charge, finishing on 106* made off 123 balls in 137 minutes including 11 fours and 1 six. Performances such as this, had led to his becoming Illawara player of the year in 1992/93 and receiving an NSW Country scholarship to play for a season in England. This was spent with the Horsney Club in Middlesex where he opened the bowling with England "one cap wonder" paceman Neil Williams and in one match scored a memorable, undefeated 152. Daptoo has since honoured him by selecting him in its All Time XI at its 150th Anniversary in 2007. Social evenings in its club house there also saw the origins of the "Chicken Dance" later to be demonstrated on the world's cricket fields.

Between 1995 and 2004, during which time of course events in Ireland changed his personal and cricket life considerably. Trent played first grade cricket in Sydney for Campbelltown, North Sydney and Mosman. In all, in a record strikingly similar to his overall one for Ireland, he played 158 matches, scoring 2516 runs at 21.32 with a highest score of 115 and took 348 wickets at 16.09 with a best bowling of 6-25. At Campbelltown, where he stayed for two seasons, he opened the attack with a young fair haired paceman called Brett Lee, while at North Sydney, where he spent four seasons, his team-mates included leg spinner Stewart McGill, who might be ranked among the all-time greats had his career not overlapped with that of Liz Hurley's latest conquest.

Trent took 56 wickets in two successive seasons there, no mean feat considering the excellence of the wickets at North Sydney Oval. It was, he has since written, at this stage of his career, that he really learned how to bowl. This period also saw him in the New South Wales squad, though, in a lean time for the famous side, his Sheffield Shield/ Pura Cup performances were no true reflection of his ability. He was not, perhaps, helped by the regrettably short lived Wisden Australia referring to him as David Johnston in one match report but as TJ Johnston in a team photograph. He also played several matches for both New South Wales Colts and 2nd XI during this period, a team -mate in both sides being a left handed opener called Bray. Playing for the Colts against Queensland Colts at North Sydney in February 1995, he had 3-35 in the Queensland first innings, while his best bowling for the Seconds came against the Australian Cricket Academy, led by Michael Clarke, in November 1999. The fancied ACA batting line up were bowled out for 279 with Trent returning figures of 23-5-62-4.

Trent first came to Ireland in 1995 as professional for Carlisle and was to remain in this role until the club had to disband in 1998. With all due respect to Kimmage cricket, probably the most important event of this time was Trent's meeting at Leinster CC with one of the Rathmines Club's women cricketers Vanessa Millard. The rest, as they say, is history. However he still found plenty of time to distinguish himself for Carlisle and to launch a career in Leinster senior cricket which, by the end of the 2011 season had brought him 5304 runs at 44.94 including 14 hundreds - highest score 168 - and 278 wickets at 16.79 with 8 five wicket hauls. His performance in the Wiggins Teape League Final against Malahide in 1995 had much to do with the Kimmage side winning the trophy for the first time against a fancied Malahide line up. Backed up a by a hard hitting 78 from captain Stephen Molins, Trent with a "blend of power and finesse" (Peter O'Reilly) made 79 then took 2-29. Molins pipped him to the man of the Match award with 3-39 including the key wicket of Justin Benson. Trent finished his first season with 760 runs at 44.70 and 53 wickets at 15.50.

He left Leinster cricket in 1998 and continued his career In New South Wales as described above. However in 2001 he returned to spend a season with Leinster in which, scaling the heights, he scored 845 runs at 56.33 with 4 hundreds and 4 fifties. His highest score an undefeated 140 came against Railway Union at Park Avenue when he was involved in a third wicket stand of 242 with wicket keeper Moffet. The Rathmines club closed on 354-3 but were hard pushed to win, Railway union falling just three runs short. Perhaps rather less economical than usual Trent finished with 3-77; his first wicket was probably the crucial one, Niall O'Brien for a single.

Trent, Vanessa and their children returned to Dublin in 2004, he having signed for Clontarf. Now an Irish citizen, his intention was to play for Ireland in the 2007 World Cup. That first season he had two centuries and was and essential part of a strong batting side. Over the next three seasons he was to feature in a number of notable partnerships with fellow Australians Jeremy Bray and Alex Cusack as well as Scottish international Dom Rigby. To take one example, in an Irish Senior Cup match with Pembroke in 2004, he and Rigby put on almost 200 for the 3rd wicket, Trent making 120* off 91 balls with 12 fours and 3 sixes. This enabled Clontarf to win by 8 wickets. He had also played his part in restricting the Sydney Paraders to 224 by bowling 10 tight overs for 34.

However, though he proved an inspiring captain of the Castle Avenue side, he moved over the river to Park Avenue in 2008, where he had both captaincy and coaching responsibilities. One of his most memorable matches was against CYM in 2008. He came in at 51-1 and, though another wicket fell almost immediately, proceeded utterly to dominate the bowling. He made an undefeated 168 out of 238 added while he was at the wicket. For good measure he then sealed the win with three catches and bowling figures of 2-63. Trent's feats for Ireland are really too well known to need detailed comment here. He became captain in 2005 and, since then, whether leading the side or not, his influence and inspiration have been immense. His belief in his team inspired them to their epic performances in the 2007 World Cup, who else, for example, would have won the St Patrick's day thriller against Pakistan with a six. His bowling, under very difficult conditions, was crucial to Ireland's success in the recent World T20 Qualifying Tournament, figures such as 4-1-9-2 against Canada being almost un heard of in such cricket.

He is, of course, far more than just an instant cricketer, some of his best performances having come in the Intercontinental Cup. Thus against the Netherlands at Deventer in 2004, he took 4-34 in 17.5 overs when the Dutch batted first, swinging the ball alarmingly in helpful conditions. He then ensured a first innings lead of some substance with a dominating 60* off 61 balls with 6 fours and 3 sixes. He took 20 off one over from spinner Kloppenburg: 4-6-6-2-4. Against Namibia at Castle Avenue in 2006 he had his best figures for Ireland in any cricket with 9.5-2-23-6, the visitors crashing out for 95. Then, as his team seem destined to do likewise, he made a quieter than usual 71 in 148 minutes from 121 balls with 9 fours. After taking two second innings wickets, he was in at the finish to make the winning hit, a 4 to long leg, as Ireland won by 5 wickets.

To return to one day cricket, against Gloucestershire at Castle Avenue in a 2007 C&G Trophy Match he performed the hat trick, the first for Ireland since Tom Hanna's against I Zingari in 1877. This reduced the county to 94-4. He struck again to make them 117-5 but fielding lapses then allowed the visitors to put the game out Ireland's reach. He was also prominent in Ireland's wonderful win over Worcestershire in the same competition at New Road in 2009. While it was the remarkable bowling of Peter Connell which deservedly won the man of the match award as the county were sent packing form 58, it was the batting of Trent who came in at 52-5 to make 39 off 63 balls with 4 fours, and Kyle McCallan, who joined him at 75-6 to add a crucial 57, which made the victory possible.

At the start of the 2012 season he moved to YMCA as Head Coach. International commitments limited his appearances in Leinster senior cricket to 8 matches but he still scored 272 runs at 38.86 and took 8 wickets at 14.58. In 2013 he appeared in 10 matches scoring 254 runs at 36.29 and taking12 wickets at 11.67. He also coached the successful Leinster Lightnings side in the Interprovincial tournament. Irish Cricket is very much indebted to all that David T rent Johnston has done. The 39-year-old Trent called time on his Ireland 198-cap career after Ireland won the Intercontinental Cup in Dubai on 13 December 2013 when he lifted the ICC InterContinental Cup - his 12th title in a glorious ten-year span that also saw him feature in two World Cups and three World T20s.

Hardly had the last glass of celebratory champagne been drained when Cricket Ireland announced Trent's appointment as Coach of Ireland Women, in succession to Jeremy Bray, and fast bowling coach at the Ireland Academy. All those involved in Irish cricket will be delighted that his skill and experience will not be lost to the game at national level.

He is profiled in Siggins and Fitzgerald Ireland's 100 Cricket Greats. I am also indebted to Raiders of The Caribbean, the book he co-wrote with Gerard Siggins, following the 2007 World Cup.