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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Paul Smith
  • Born 26 March 1820, Sheffield
  • Died Unknown
  • Occupation Publican and Professional Cricketer
  • Debut 11 May 1860 v United South of England XI at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 83
  • Style Batting hand unknown, slow medium round arm
  • Teams Northumberland Club, Sheffield, Phoenix, United Ireland XI

This player has previously been referred to as Pat Smith, though no biographical details were known. However, my researches convince me, beyond reasonable doubt, that he is the player whose details are shown here. Anyone with contrary information is asked to contact us with details.

Paul Smith was a good all round cricketer. In his younger days, in the highly competitive world of cricket in North Eastern England, it was not uncommon for him to open both the batting and bowling. As the years waned he dropped down the order but remained a bowler great stamina, capable of long spells of accurate and penetrating bowling.

Much of his best cricket was played for the Northumberland Club which had its headquarters at the Bath Inn in Newcastle on Tyne where he was landlord. Among his many fine performances we may note one against Durham University on the Racecourse Ground in that city in 1845. He began by bowling the students out for 65, taking six wickets thwarted only by Mr Extras who top scored with 22! Then as the visitors themselves found batting difficult and made only 85, he opened and was second top score with 17. Not finished he took another 7 wickets in the university's second innings of 40. Despite the obviously atrocious wicket the visitors had little trouble in winning by 10 wickets with Paul undefeated on 13.

His two first class matches, both for Sheffield against Manchester, came in 1846 and resulted in heavy defeats notwithstanding his own top class performances. In the first match, at Sheffield, the visitors won by an innings and 37 runs, bowling Sheffield out for 60 and 113, Opening the innings, Paul top scored with 22 in the first innings, the only double figure score and 40 in a rather better team performance in the second. A month later. at Moss Lane Manchester, he took 6 wickets in the hosts first innings of 127. He did little in the rest of the match but could certainly not be held to account for the defeat.

He was also much in demand throughout the North East to play for local XXIIs against the All England XI or its rebellious spin off the United England XI. One of his best performances in these matches came for Durham against All England in 1849. He took 3 wickets in the visitors first innings including the great Alfred Mynn, a man of vast stature and matching ability as an all rounder. Then in the second with All England only 21 ahead he took a further five, this time including the leading batsman George Parr and John Wisden, remembered as a paceman, but also a fine performer with the bat. Eventually a Durham collapse saw the XI victorious, but their batsmen had been severely tested. ?

Three years later he helped his own Northumberland Club hold their mighty visitors to a draw. This time it was as an opening batsman. Together with opening partner Robert Markinson he put on over 80 for the first wicket in the second innings, enabling the match to be saved. Paul made 32 and Markinson 39. Unfortunately, Markinson had other activities besides cricket to occupy him. Three years later he was transported to Western Australia for 14 years having been convicted of the theft of the then vast sum of £4264 from his employers. Also seeking a change of scenery, Paul - probably recommended by Parr, Wisden or another member of one of the Travelling XIs, made the surely wiser choice of signing for Phoenix.

His first match of consequence in Ireland was for Charles Lawrence's United Ireland XI against a side simply designated North at Scarvey in 1856. On a rough wicket he and Lawrence ran through the home side, Paul taking 8 of the 21 wickets and Lawrence 9. He then opened the batting for the visitors but was run out for 4. The conditions enabled the hosts to lead on first innings, but they were again bowled out cheaply, Paul not bowling in the second innings. He came in at 7 in the XI's second innings but was 0* when stumps were drawn.

His Irish debut came in a 3-day match against the United South of England XI- the third and last of the great Travelling XIs to be founded - in May 1865. It was the first match to be played on the Leinster ground at Observatory Lane and was left drawn because of the weather and because a number of the Irish side turned up late on all three days of the match. Winning the toss and batting, USE were dismissed for 59 with Paul and the all rounder William Ashton taking the wickets, Paul's figures were 20 - 9 - 33 - 4, an indication of his skill and accuracy. Ireland were then put out for 86 to which the USE replied with 171 before time ran out.

The main feature of their innings was a marathon bowling spell from Paul of 37.2 - 18 - 53 - 6. Even though he was only bowling 4 ball overs and had 20 fielders and a wicket keeper to support him, this was a remarkable performance, particularly for a 45-year-old.

He played once more for Ireland, four years later on the same ground against the same opposition. By this time, however, he was well past his best and had sunk to Number 22 in the order. Here he was bowled by James Southerton for 0 in the first innings and 2 in the second. Southerton, no spring chicken either, would be the same age 49, when he made his Test debut in the first ever Test Match at Melbourne in 1877. Paul took one wicket in the match but did not appear for Ireland again.