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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Rory Desmond McCann
  • Born 11 January 1985, Belfast
  • Educated Chichester Boys High School, Sussex; St George's International School, Rome; University of Ulster
  • Occupation Teacher
  • Debut 23 June 2010 v West Indies A at Stormont
  • Cap Number 675
  • Style Right hand batsman, wicket keeper, occasional slow medium right arm bowler
  • Teams Irish Universities, Instonians, Carlton (Edinburgh), North, Northern Knights, Ireland Development XI, Ireland A

Rory McCann, a wicket keeper of international class is a prolific, free scoring upper order batsman with around 6000 runs to his credit in senior cricket in Ireland and Scotland. He is also, when required, a slow medium bowler, perhaps rather better than he gives himself credit for being.

His secondary education was divided between Chichester and Rome. The former's Boys High School has a number of other distinguished alumni, including Major Tim Peake and - of all people, albeit only briefly, - Steven Segal, he of the incongruous pony tail and even more incongruous films. It has also, again rather briefly, had one other international cricketer in its ranks, former England fast bowler John Snow.

While at University, Rory represented the Irish Universities in the British Universities Championships before joining Instonians for whom he has scored more than 5000 runs in all matches. His highest score, 143, came against Ballymena in the NCU Premiership in 2009 at Shaw's Bridge. He and John Stevenson (117*) put on 244 for the first wicket before Rory was out having dominated the first wicket partnership. The "Old Boys" reached 322-1 from their 50 overs before bowling the visitors out for 145, Rory completing a good afternoon's work by claiming a stumping and allowing only one bye.

Though he hit 3 hundreds in 2006, his best season was 2011 when he aggregated 1011 runs at 58.64 with 2 hundreds. The highest, 137, came against CIYMS at Shaw's Bridge in August which led to a crushing victory. He shared century partnerships with Ben Wylie for the first wicket and James Shannon, a frequent partner in such episodes as Instonians made 297-6, then saw CI crumble to 79 all out.

In the NCU Challenge Cup, he had, by the time work commitments in Scotland brought his appearances to a - possibly temporary - halt made 849 runs at 56.60 since 2006. Two innings in 2009, while not his highest in the competition, were highly valuable and will be considered here. The Semi Final against Lisburn at Shaw's Bridge was a rain affected affair with Duckworth / Lewis playing a part. The Wallace Park side batted first and were dismissed for 161 from 45.5 overs. Calculations left the hosts needing 190 but they eventually won on 146-5, the D/L par score having been 120 when the rain returned. Rory had made a brisk 61, an essential innings in the chase. Rain again affected the Final, restricting it to 30 overs a side. With Instonians needing 190 Rory played an anchor role, again scoring 61, helping his team to a convincing 8 wickets victory. He put on 96 for the first wicket with Divan Van Wyk (64) and 81 for the second with Shannon (50*). He was dismissed by Gavin McKenna who has taken his wicket more times than any other NCU bowler.

He has also played several good innings in the Ulster Cup. One such came the same season in the Quarter Final against Strabane. Batting first Instonians were given a rousing start by Rory and Van Wyk, before the latter was out for 117. Rory stayed until the end being undefeated on 109, the "Old Boys" totalling 266-1. The value of the openers' hundred was seen as there was a nail biting finish with Strabane failing by 3 runs to reach their target.

Rory has also been seen to advantage in the Irish Senior Cup, having made 490 runs in the competition at 37.69. His highest score of 139 came in a high scoring first round match with Killymallaght at Shaw's Bridge in 2008. Facing 150 balls and batting for 159 minutes, he hit 12 fours and 1 six. The hosts posted a substantial 282-4 but were given a fright by the North Westerners who ended on 270-9. Another fine knock two years later saw him make an undefeated 90 in a 9 wicket victory over Brigade at Beechgrove while he was also prominent in another high scoring match, this time with Phoenix at Shaw's Bridge in 2012. The visitors made 262-5, largely thanks to David Langford-Smith who powered his way to 107 from 90 balls, hitting 8 fours and 9 sixes. However John Stevenson and Rory replied with an opening stand of 169, before both fell at that score, Rory having made 86 from 115 balls with 8 fours. James Shannon then saw the hosts home with no further alarms.

Rory's move to Scotland reduced his Instonians appearances after 2012, sadly they have, for the last two seasons, been non-existent. However, he has been far from dormant as far as cricket is concerned, becoming, when available, a key member of the Carlton CC batting line up In Scotland's Eastern Premier League and the Scottish Cup. In all such matches, and in the one T20 contest of which a score has been seen, he has - with limited opportunities - scored almost 1000 runs. To the end of the 2016 season, his highest score is 112* in 2013, a season in which he averaged 105.33 in the League. This innings, which helped Carlton to 309-4 from 50 overs, came against local rivals Heriot's and saw him share a 3rd wicket stand of 104 with Hamish Gardiner, one of a clutch of Scottish internationals in Carlton's ranks.

Rory has shown himself somewhat partial to the Heriot's attack, having made 91 against them in 2014 at their Golden Acre ground, sharing in another century stand with opener David Webb, also a Scottish cap. Rory had several fine knocks in 2016 - when he also began keeping wicket regularly - for example 75 against Aberdeen side Stanymore - Dyce, contributing well towards an impressive 338-5 from Carlton, top scorer being Scottish Rugby international Hugo Southwell with 93. His highest T20 score to date is 86* from 60 balls against Stewart's Melville Royal High in 2016 in the T20 Cup Quarter Final, setting up a 56 runs win.

Rory's move to Scotland has greatly reduced his appearances at interprovincial level, though he did play in both North v South games in 2012. His one three day match for the Northern Knights against North West Warriors came at Osborne Park at the end of July 2013. Battling at 7 he made 32* but had no chance to improve on this in the second innings as rain which had already badly interfered with play, seeped under the covers and caused the third day to be abandoned with the Warriors on 61/4 in reply to the hosts 301/9 declared.

He played 28 matches for teams variously described as Ireland A, Ireland U23, and Ireland Development XI, hitting 3 fifties in 3 day matches. Two of these innings came against Hampshire 2nd XI, both at The Rose - now Ageas - Bowl. In 2010 for Ireland A he batted as low as No 9 and made 56 from 82 balls, hitting 11 fours, putting on 123 for the 8th wicket with Reinhardt Strydom (58). He did not bat in the second innings in a match which the County went on to win by 3 wickets.

The following season saw the Development XI victorious by an innings and 71 runs. The County were dismissed for 157 with Ben McCord taking 5-42 and, in the words of the Irish Cricket Annual, "The win was set up by a superb partnership of 128 between Stuart Thompson (97 not out) and Rory McCann who hit 10 fours in 60" Ireland totalled 328 then, with McCord again to the fore bowled the hosts out for 100. With 5 catches in the match, Rory had, indeed, made a worthwhile contribution! A 40 over match was played on what would have been the third day, Ireland won again. Rory's batting was not needed but he made a stumping off Thompson.

His other half century came in Ireland's remarkable 5 wickets win over Gloucestershire 2nd XI at Bath in 2012. The county having been 85-4, made 494-5 declared, Rory holding a catch and allowing only one bye during this marathon. He then made Ireland's second top score 54, with 7 fours, facing 120 balls and putting on 103 for the 8th with John Anderson (72). Though they were dismissed for 230. Ireland were not made follow on and reduced the hosts to 146-8 before being set 414 to win. An undefeated 143 from Andy Balbirnie and 93 from Thompson were the main reasons for an unlikely 5 wickets victory but Rory with 21" helped Balbirnie add the remaining 59 runs after the 5th wicket had fallen.

Unfortunately, he was never in his 16 appearances for the full Irish side able to display his true batting form, 18 against The Netherlands in 2010 being his highest score in an aggregate of 63 runs at 7.00. There can be no doubt that he was well capable of having shown much better form, it must, like perhaps Denis Compton's average of 7.57 in the 1950-51 Ashes, be seen as" just one of those things." Behind the stumps there was no doubt of Rory's class, he held 24 catches, 20 of them in 2010 when he played 10 matches, and made 3 stumpings.

He is currently (March 2017) Director of Sport at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh.