Mike Stevenson could make good bowling look very ordinary
Michael Hamilton Stevenson
Mike Stevenson was the most successful, and most long lasting of the quintet of Oxbridge Blues who played for Ireland in the 1950s and 60s. Tall and fair-haired, he was an upstanding middle order batsman with a penchant for cover and lofted drives. Wisden once pronounced him "impetuous and therefore not to be relied on" but on his day he could make good bowling look very ordinary. After a successful school career at Rydal, 655 runs in his last two seasons at 24.87 and captain in his last year, he entered Cambridge in 1948 and, having already shown promise for Staffordshire in Minor County matches, was given a blue in his first season 1949.
For the next four years he held his place in a strong Cantab batting side which included, though not all at the same time JG Dews, GHG Dogcart, Peter May, David Sheppard and Raman Subba Row. He totalled 1694 runs with 2 hundreds at an average of 28.80. In 1950 Stevenson (109) and May (223) added 233 for the third wicket against Leicestershire. His two most memorable innings were in 1952. Against Surrey at the Oval he raced to 111 in two and a half hours with two 6s and twelve 4s. Against Worcestershire he hit four 6s and six fours to get to 53 in less than even time. In 1951 he was selected for both Derbyshire and Ireland. He made 0 on both debuts.
His Irish qualification was a holiday residential one as his parents had returned to Dublin on retirement. He played for Leinster and Clontarf over three seasons, but disliked the low, slow wickets. After failing again against MCC in 1952, he was out of the Irish side until 1959 when he was recalled against Leicestershire. With scores of 80 and 0 he began a run of five 50s and 6 other double figure scores in 17 innings. While his 62 against MCC at Lord's was the next highest, his 55 against the same opponents at College Park in 1961, touched the margins of brilliance making a series of masterly cover drives against MCC paceman Jeremy Cook who had the rest of the top order.
Though he did not play for Ireland after 1964, he remained in contact as a member of MCC sides against his former teammates. Thus in 1967, as MCC won by an innings he made 58 before Gerry Duffy bowled him. In his first phase of schoolmastering he taught at three public schools, but mainly at Pocklington, where he ran the cricket and founded the Pocklington Pixies club which reached the final of the national club championship in their first year of existence. In the late 1960s he abandoned teaching to write on, mostly, North of England, cricket and rugby. He wrote two books "A History of Yorkshire Cricket" and a well-received biography of Ray Illingworth. Then, after some ten years in the press box, he tired of journalism and returned to Rydal to teach English and run the cricket. He was still living nearby when he died shortly after retiring. His obituary is in Wisden 1995.
© CricketEurope, Cricket Ireland
Ireland v England 2011RSA Challenge, Ireland v England
Thursday 25 August, Clontarf
Tickets may be purchased online, by telephone, or via the Cricket Ireland office.
» Ticket ordering info
MembershipCricket Ireland offers a range of membership packages for 2011 - whatever your need, there's a package for you!
» Membership details
MerchandiseThe new range of Irish replica and supporters gear is available through Lion Sports.
» Order now online!