The Hills cricket club was a fitting venue for Cricket Leinster to launch its centenary history “100 NOT OUT” on Monday night.
On an evening when the umpires would definitely have announced “Rain Stopped Play” a large attendance were present to celebrate 100 years of the union and its senior league.
The host club themselves are of course also marking their own half-century this year, and in recognition of this the final of the Leinster Senior League Cup was held in the Vineyard, as well as the Irish Senior Cup final and the Ireland Wolves brilliant win over Bangladesh.
The president of Cricket Leinster, Peter Thew, recalled the great on-field events of centenary year, with the highlight being the visit of Middlesex to play Leinster Lightning in front of almost 2,000 people in June. Thew is retired from a lifetime working in publishing and explained that he saw helping to turn the work of the authors into the stunning 504-page hardback was his key project of the year.
100 NOT OUT has several contributors, with Siobhan McBennett and Mary Sharp writing about women’s cricket, Alan Tuffery about umpiring, Brian Kelleher the development of coaching, Michael Sharp the club scene and Deryck Vincent the long history of schools and youth cricket.
There are also a trio of chapters on the story of the Leinster interprovincial side, with Ger Siggins detailing the earliest days from 1890 to 1965 and former Ireland captain Michael Halliday the years from 1966 to 2004. Andrew Blair-White contributes a chapter on the revived interpros from 2013 when Leinster Lightning won 15 of the first 18 titles on offer.
The main section of the book is the history of the game in the province, written by Gerard Siggins, who previously wrote ‘Green Days’, the history of cricket in Ireland published in 2005.
Siggins writes about the first sightings of the sport in the Phoenix Park in 1730 and the development over the next century which saw cricket become the most popular and widely played sport in the land.
The history details, decade by decade, the evolution of the union and retells many of the great stories of stirring deeds and exciting matches up to the present day.
100 NOT OUT is also jam-packed with statistics, many of them from the life’s work of Derek Scott, who collected and collated the scorecards of every senior game from the very first in 1919.
It gives the union a fantastic historical background and modern players can directly compare their deeds to those of the legends of the past.
Eddie Lewis spoke about working with Derek's records and turning them into manageable and fascinating tables. He brought the statistical sections to life in the book, pointing to Naseer Shaukat, who came to Ireland to play for Rush and is now with the Hills, who has become only the ninth man to score over 5,000 runs and take 500 wickets.
‘Naz’ is also only 279 away from becoming the 13th player to score 10,000 runs, which could be the incentive to delay his retirement, suggested Eddie.
Ger Siggins thanked all who came out on a foul night, and the Hills for giving such a warm welcome. He said that he had greatly honoured to be asked write what became a labour of love and thanked Eddie Lewis, Henry Tighe and Philip Smith for giving him the chance to do so.
He recalled his 35 years writing about the sport in Leinster and his passion for its history passed down by Derek Scott. He confessed that when he goes to a game he always makes a beeline to the most elderly spectators to hear their memories of great players and days gone by.
The evening was rounded off by a marvellous speech by Tom Murphy, a Fingal legend who played the game for more than fifty years and whose own century is only a single boundary hit away.
Tom remembered his own debut in 1939, and how scores were very low in those times – one side totalled eight runs, and still won!
He recounted a Fingal League final between Knockbrack 2nds and Balcullin which ended in a 21-21 tie in front of 1,600 spectators, and the replay was a similarly tight affair. Knockbrack made about 40, and their opponents were 14-9 in reply when a great last wicket stand took them to within one run before they lost.
Tom also told the story of a famous victory in the 1950s for a Fingal League selection over Phoenix, who had five internationals on their team, including the legendary Jimmy Boucher. That side included some of the great names of Fingal cricket history, including Tom himself, Simon Hoare and Kit Mooney.
A great attendance saw representatives from the leading Fingal clubs and others far beyond the barony. Philip Smith and Kevin Gallagher from Cricket Leinster were also in attendance.
David O’Connor, president of Cricket Ireland, also thanked the authors and Cricket Leinster for their efforts in bringing the book to glorious fruition. He also congratulated The Hills on their half-century and looked forward to reading that history in a forthcoming book by Jim Bennett which will draw on the stunning photographs of Joe Curtis.
100 NOT OUT is now on sale at
https://www.tickettailor.com/events/cricketleinster/292414 wand can be purchased or ordered in all good bookstores.