Famous Irish cricketers: Scott Huey
Samuel Scott Johnston Huey
Scott Huey, was a truly great slow left arm bowler, in the opinion of many the best of his kind to play for Ireland, until the advent of Dermot Monteith.
With a run up slightly longer than that of most spinners, he generally operated from round the wicket to right handers, emerging from behind the umpire, to deliver a ball of deadly accuracy and perfect length. He was a master of spin and flight, besides possessing a well disguised and highly effective faster ball.
A master at summing up a batsman's strengths and weaknesses then trading upon them, he was not without his rivals: in the North West , there are, to this day, people who contend that the Sion Mills all rounder John Flood was the better bowler. He was said to have more variations than Huey, and an easier approach to the wicket.
However, even though so seasoned an observer as former City of Derry skipper and NWCU / ICU administrator, Davy Todd, was unwilling to choose between them, Huey has figures on his side, impressive as Flood's were. Further almost half of Huey's Irish wickets were gained against professional opposition. Scott also had to contend for his Irish place with Jack Bowden and "Sonny" Hool.
However, writing as one who saw all three bowl, it seems - to this writer at least - strange indeed that good bowlers as they were, they should have ever been selected ahead of Scott, when he was available.
Educated at Dublin's Masonic School, now defunct but a producer of several Irish cricketers and many fine club players, he broke into the City of Derry side in 1943, moving to Eglinton, to begin a 26 season career, in 1945.
As Clarence Hiles has written he "provided the spark that ignited their fuse." prior to Scott's advent, they had won a solitary Senior Trophy; in the following ten seasons they won one League title, four NWCU Cups and four Faughan Valley Cups. Scott's bowling feats in that time, and for many years afterwards, are the stuff of legend.
His first major achievement was in the 1948 NWCU Cup Final. A closely fought match left Brigade requiring 122 to win. They failed by 7 runs with Scott including a hat trick in figures of 7-41. He was to go from strength to strength. The following year he found himself bowling to defend a paltry total of 53 in the League against Donemana. Billy Platt has described what happened, "His bowling was almost unplayable, breaking and swinging in all directions." He took 10-10 to send Donemana to the pavilion for 20.
Incredibly he was to take all 10 against them again 12 years later, at a cost of 28. He also had three 9 wicket hauls, the best of which was 9-9 v City of Derry in 1959, had Davy Todd not been run out he would probably have had another "10 for." He also had 9-15 v favoured rabbits Donemana in 1956, in a match in which the opposition, needing only 65 to win, could post but 46 runs on the board. Three years later he had 9-36 v Limavady, though this match was lost by 26 runs.
His record also includes several 8 wicket hauls and many "5 fors." He was often seen at his best in the NWCU Cup Final, though not always on the winning side. Thus in 1959, he took 6-19 in Sion Mills second innings to leave Eglinton requiring a mere 69 to win. However Flood was in equally deadly form, and Sion were victorious by 37 runs. Eglinton made no such mistake the following year. Scott made 54 in the second innings helping RW Taylor set their opponents 233 to win. He then took 6-14, as Donemana, (who else when he had the ball in his hands?) collapsed for 43.
In the evening of his career in 1968 and 69, he again played a major part in Finals. In the former year his match figures of 11-88 saw, you've guessed it, Donemana, condemned to the runners up spot. In 1969 they at last turned the tables to win by 5 wickets, but not before Scott had taken 8 wickets in the match, at a cost of 90.
Though he always batted down the order for Ireland, he was a far from negligible performer, often as an opener. He favoured the long handle, making 69 in the league v City of Derry in 1962, with three sixes and nine fours, but he could play the other game. In the 1954 Cup Final, Eglinton began disastrously, losing 4 quick wickets. Scott then batted 135 minutes for 21, while Taylor made a century. This set up another victory over Donemana!
It took him some time to break through into representative cricket, not everyone was convinced even after his Irish debut in 1951. What reassured observers in all parts of the country was his remarkable performance in the North v South Trial of 1952. He had figures of 12.3-7-21-6, in the South first innings, with to quote Billy Platt, "A brilliant piece of bowling which made the South batsmen look like amateurs." They did rather better at the second attempt, but he took a further 4 wickets. At the end of his career, he captained the North West in the Guinness Cup, leading them to the first ever title in 1966.
All told he took 65 wickets at 10.67, before retiring in 1971. He had also gained a "5 for" for North West v Pakistan International Airlines at Strabane in 1969, in the first game the first of their four match tour. This team included 10 current or future Test players. Scott's wickets included one aspiring batsman whom Wisden, with its somewhat frequent disregard for accuracy in matters pertaining to Irish Cricket, named as Zahey in its scorecard of Ireland's match. He preferred to be known as Zaheer Abbas.
For Ireland he took 112 wickets at 20.66 in 36 appearances. His first class figures are 66 wickets at 18.23. He began his Irish career v Scotland in College Park in 1951. He took 5 wickets in the match, including that, twice of prolific batsman, and Presbyterian Minister James Aitchison, who made a century in the first innings. Aitchison scored heavily against Ireland though whether Irish bowlers agreed with Worcestershire leg spinner Roley Jenkins is not recorded. Aitchison on his way to a big score against Worcestershire was asked by a toiling Jenkins: "Aren't you a parson?" "Yes," responded the batsman. "You can't be much good at it, "sledged Roley. "Why not?" Aitchison responded. "Well," said Roley, showing for one who played his cricket in the shadow of a great Anglican cathedral a lack of knowledge about divisions within the Protestant Churches, " if I had your luck I'd be the Archbishop of **** Canterbury!"
Scott was unable to play in the two South African matches which followed because of injury, but was back in the side for the rain affected draw with MCC at Lord's. He bowled accurately but took no wickets. Against India at Ormeau the following year, where rain - with slight assistance from Louis Jacobson - rescued Ireland, he took a commendable 4-83 in 31 overs. Bowden was also in the side and Scott had to use the new ball. His wickets included Pankaj Roy, prolific against all except real pace, and Dattu Phadkar, an all rounder and one of the few Indian batsmen to have any success against England that season.
Against MCC later in the season, rain again helped Ireland survive, but Scott's two wickets were both Test players, former captain RES "Bob" Wyatt and SC "Billy" Griffith, future MCC Secretary, then the only man to have scored his maiden first class century in his first Test. Scott's fame was really sealed by the next visit of MCC to College Park, in 1954.
On a wicket which gave help to bowlers, MCC seamer JHG Deighton taking 10 in the match, Scott had remarkable figures indeed. His first innings analysis was 23-6-49-6, but this was surpassed by his second 29.5-6-48-8. This gave Ireland a 2 run victory and took Scott to the top of the first class bowling averages for the season. He had also contributed with the bat, making 23*in the first innings his highest for Ireland, putting on a vital 9th wicket 31 with keeper Frank Miller.
His victims included Wyatt, who likened him to Headley Verity, whom he had captained when Verity spun Australia out at Lord's to give England their last victory a there in 1934. This was praise indeed from one who did not often give it. In the first innings Bob had been bowled by paceman Alf Cooper. "That's the worst ball I've ever faced in my life," said Wyatt. Further scalps were future England opener Raman Subba Row, and former England Captain George Mann, father of Simon Mann allegedly involved in staging an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea in 2004. Another of Scott's wickets was NCF Bloy, a Cambridge Blue, who had emergedfrom a POW camp in 1945, and having been reported killed two years earlier.
Scott was also to the fore against quality opposition v West Indies at Ormeau in 1957, where rain, once again, was the only winner. He took 5-46 including that of Rohan Kanhai. His other wickets were all those of top order batsmen, including Andy Gantaume who scored a century in his only Test Match. Hauls of 7 wickets followed v Scotland at Ayr in 1958 and the full Lancashire side in College Park the following summer. Here his wickets included the captain Bob Barber, later to have an all too brief career as a stroke making Test opener, Jack Bond, to become captain in Lancashire's glory years, and Peter Marner, who hovered on the verge of Test selection for several seasons.
For some however, the highlight of Scott's Irish career came on a cold September day in College Park in 1960 v MCC. He took only two wickets, rain allowing the visitors just a single innings. One was former Cambridge Blue Mike Bushby, whose treatment of Ray Lindwall in 1953 had greatly impressed Australian journalist and former opener Jack Fingleton, the other Sir Leonard Hutton for 89, in his final first class innings. He was stumped by Ossie Colhoun, only the 20th time he was so dismissed in 814 first class innings. He had also dismissed Hutton at Lord's in the previous year, having bowled him for 80 in his first innings. As Len was run out early on in the second innings, Scott succedeeded, in getting his wicket in the only two innings in which he bowled to him, an unusual, if not unique, achievement."
Two more outstanding performances remained. In 1963, Scotland came to Beechgrove, and, though Ireland had gained the upper hand in the first innings, had reached 114-4, needing 201, on a pitch favouring the quicker bowlers. Scott then took a hand. To the delight of a partisan North West crowd, he bowled 16-11-13-6, to see Ireland home by 70 runs.
The following year, he took 5-68 v New Zealand at Ormeau. This, together with an uncharacteristically defensive fifty from Donald Pratt, kept Ireland on level terms until the great Bert Sutcliffe, in his final first class innings, scored a memorable hundred.
Scott captained Ireland five times, finishing his career in that role, but was never able to record a victory. Away from cricket, he was a talented badminton player, representing Ireland and was also capped for Ulster at hockey.
In retirement, he was not lost to cricket. He served as both a North West and Irish selector and was President of the NWCU in the early 1990s, several times turning down the role for the ICU.
He remains a close follower of the game, and never one to hark back to the old days and self glorification. Perhaps he should follow Roy Torrens on to Test Match Special!
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