4 December 2023

by J C Hiles



I was intrigued reading Guinness ‘Cricket Firsts’ compiled by Peter Mathews and Robert Brooke; two cricket historian buffs like me. Their idea was first mooted in 1987 and it is packed with numerous details. It is not a book you read from start to finish but best in chunks as it is an encyclopedia.

Sadly, cricket historians are dwindling, and cricket books are a passion of love, certainly not for remuneration. Little wonder our historians are mostly in retirement. However, people like Ian Callender, Ger Siggins, Edward Liddle and Barry Chambers continue to fly the flag and the work of John Elder’s Cricket Europe website is phenomenal. Irish cricket archives have been blessed by their involvement. But one wonders, are they appreciated by clubs and Unions?

Getting back to the Guinness Firsts book, Ireland is mentioned several times. For example, the first match by a ‘truly representative Irish XI’ was in 1855 and some of our historians refer to that date. However, others think differently. Various dates have been suggested-1890, 1923 and 1927. Of course, the safest date was 1933 when the Provincial unions were totally involved for the FIRST time. I wonder how past players would feel as 78 years has been eroded by someone in Cricket Ireland. Most Irish cricket historians are agreed on 1923 which means the Centenary Celebration should be this year. The silence is deafening!

Sports quizzes are good fund-raisers and shorten the winter.  The late Dermott Monteith was a brilliant sports buff. Not just on cricket, but on every sports topic. He hated to lose, and when the competition was over, he went home to check the facts to confirm the answers.

The Guinness Firsts book could be ideal although there are limited contents on Irish cricket, but best to research within each club. Ideally a club archivist, or perhaps a club secretary with the records available would be best placed to do so?

So, how much do the members, supporters, enthusiasts or friends know about their club? We can include representative matches, Ireland, NCU and North-West to add more interest. So for a bit of fun these winter nights here’s some FIRSTS to whet your appetite. Don’t read the answers until you have finished. Remember we are dealing with FIRSTS in this test of cricket knowledge.

Northern Cricket Union

  1. Who was the FIRST Nobel Prize Irish playwright who played first-class cricket for Dublin University against Northants in 1925?
  2. Who was the First team to win the NCU Senior Cup in 1887?
  3. Who scored the FIRST century in the Senior Cup final in 1897?
  4. Who was the FIRST senior cricketer to take ten wickets in 1953?
  5. Who was the FIRST player to score a double century in a senior cup game?
  6. Who was the FIRST player to be capped at cricket and then won an Olympic gold medal at hockey?
  7. Who was the FIRST senior cricketer that became Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1941?
  8. Who was the FIRST player to win the Man-of-the-Match in the senior cup final in 1973?
  9. Who is the FIRST (and only) woman to become President of NCU in 1954?
  10. Who was the FIRST umpire to be elected President of the NCU?


North West Cricket Union

  1. Who was the FIRST secretary of the County Derry-North-West Union?
  1. Who was the FIRST who topped the 1st Class UK averages in 1954?
  1. Who was the FIRST local batsman to score a century in NW senior cricket?
  1. Who was the FIRST local North-West batsman to be capped by Ireland?
  1. Which club was the FIRST club to win the North-West cup final?
  1. Who was the FIRST North-West cricketer to be elected to the Sports Council of NI?
  1. Who was the FIRST elected President of Irish Cricket Union in 1959?
  1. Who was the FIRST North-West schoolboy to be selected for Irish Schoolboys in 1955?
  1. Who was the FIRST batsman to win the Britannia Player of the Year in 1988?
  1. Who was the FIRST batsman to hit six sixes?



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